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Thoughts and Blog by Students and Faculty at NIMT.

Whether you’re in high school, college or post-graduate studies, the first day of school is always an exciting, daunting, hopeful occasion. It’s a blank slate, a chance to make a fresh start, even an opportunity to reinvent one’s self.

Preparing for Day 1 is a crucial step to starting the school year right. Here are 7 ways.

1. Start sleeping right

You’re still on summer mode if you indulge in late nights with friends and wake up at 4 pm every day. Depending on your class schedule, this may not be the right sleep cycle to maintain once school starts. Days before the start of classes, sync your body clock and sleep cycle to one that jives with your class schedule. Having morning classes, common among high school and college students, means sleeping early so you can have enough energy to pull yourself from bed when the sun comes up.

Because we live in the age of smartphones, there are apps to help you out with this sort of thing. The Sleep Schedule app, for example, tells you what time you should sleep if you want to achieve a full sleep cycle. You just key in the time you want to wake up and it computes for the ideal sleeping time.

2. Don’t buy all your school things before the first day.

Yup, the second tip to preparing for the school year is not to prepare. It’s always tempting to do all your school year shopping all at once just to get it over with, but don’t do this before the first day. The first day is usually when teachers or professors list down their own requirements for their subject. This list can vary from teacher to teacher. To avoid making multiple visits to the bookstore, you can wait until you meet all your teachers and have a more accurate and complete list of what you need for the semester or year.

3. Get to know your teachers.

This tip applies best to college students who are most at risk of facing a semester with an eccentric and unpredictable professor. Do some snooping to find out what characters your professors this semester are. Ask friends from higher batches how a certain teacher grades or how heavy is the workload in his or her class. This can help you prepare for the worst and when your new prof suddenly calls a surprise quiz on the first day, you won’t be surprised at all.

4. Devise a note-taking system.

Taking notes, especially for the scatter-brained, can be the one saving act that gets you the grade you want. Note-taking is an art form and skill that can be maximized by a more efficient, more organized system.

Rather than writing down everything the teacher says, you can color-code topics, choose which details to underline or write in phrases instead of sentences. Create your own system for taking down notes to help you understand the lesson more. Perhaps you’re the more visual type who will absorb information better through pictures and drawings. We all have our own ways of learning which can be supplemented by a personalized way of note-taking.

So even before your first class, formulate a system that will enable you to make the most of a few scribbles on notebook paper.

5. Keep your class schedule in your pocket.

Nothing is worse than missing a class on the first day because you forgot it started at a certain time. Prevent any mishaps by preparing an easy-to-understand table or chart that shows your schedule for the entire semester. You can print this in wallet-size so you can carry it wherever you go. Some even have it laminated to keep it waterproof. Having this schedule helps you remember it as the school days roll in. Pretty soon, you won’t even need that piece of paper anymore.

6. Keep an organizer or to-do list.

For people who have a hard time tracking down all the work they need to do each day, an organizer or to-do notebook might be useful. You don’t need expensive hardbound planners for this, a simple notebook will do. You can assign one day to each page and list all the homework or meetings due or happening that day. Keeping such a list can help you plan your day and clear your mind from the added stress of trying to recall your errands and to-dos, allowing you to focus on class.

7. Set your goals.

Want to get in the dean’s list this semester? Want to join the mountaineering org? Want to make more friends? Want to learn Chinese calligraphy? If you decide on what you want to achieve this year, you’re already on the first step to achieving it. Setting goals also puts you in the right mood and attitude to make the most of the school year.

If you need gentle reminding everyday of what these goals are, you can keep a list in your planner or even beside your schedule. Share them with your friends, blockmates and classmates who might be able to help you achieve them.

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