Today on the blog we are going to discuss how you can plan for a successful second semester. Your semester may have gone poorly, but it is time to reflect on what you did this semester, and plan to hit the ground running for your next semester. With the information in this blog you can take the steps you need in order to succeed next semester.
1. Evaluate Your Current Semester
Before you can ever begin making a plan for the next semester, you have to dig deep to understand your current semester. Some people don't evaluate the past. You know those students who get a paper back from their professors and then just look at the grade and fold the paper in half to put in their binder never to be opened again? THERE IS A TREASURE TROVE OF INFORMATION THERE! So, you have to evaluate your current semester.
I have a great semester reflection guide that I will link below this section. If you give me your name and email (for future weekly updates and such) you will get a copy of this guide and a bunch of other great resources. This guide will walk you through all the steps of a great semester reflection, but you can do so much on your own.
I encourage you to do the following when thinking about your courses this semester:
- Go through all your old papers and feedback from your professors. What did they say about your work? What did they say you could improve on? What was your average grade? Which courses did you do best in? Which courses did you do worst in?
- Reflect on your problems a bit. How did the worst parts of your semester happen? Walk yourself through those rough patches a bit. What did you do around those times to cope or make it worse? Be honest with yourself.
- Reflect on your balance for a little while. Did you have a hard time finding friends or an extremely easy time? Did you focus too much on partying or too much on staying in every single night? Did you get stressed out because you weren't working hard enough or stressed out because you were working too hard?
- Some college bloggers focus exclusively on getting straight As. I am not here to tell you how to make straight As. I didn't make straight As in undergrad. I am here to get you on a path where you are making great grades but you are also having a life and making connections outside of school. Sometimes you can make straight As and have a social life, but everyone needs balance.
Hopefully these reflection ideas will help you get started on your reflection process. Remember to click below for even more ideas on reflecting.
2. Make Smart Goals for next semester
Now we are actually going to start focusing on the next semester. Our goal with this section is to make smart goals for the semester. You need to be S.M.A.R.T. about the goal making process. What does that mean? You may ask that, and today I am going to share with you the S.M.A.R.T. goals system in case you haven't seen this yet. All of the goals you set need to be:
The first, and overarching piece of the SMART Goals puzzle, is setting specific goals. The more of the other SMART elements you add into your goals, the more specific they will become. You need to make sure your goals aren't just general goals, that they tell a story to you, and that they compel you to act on your goals throughout the semester.
Hone in on the story behind your goals. Why do you do want to accomplish them? Get detailed, and go through the other pieces of the goals puzzle to create a goals that are stellar and get things done.
You need to have measurable goals set up. This means that you have a number that you are looking for or something that you can track. For instance, if my goal is to get an A on all of my papers for the semester, I can measure that. I know how many papers I have each semester, and I can measure whether or not I get an A on all of them.
If your goals aren't measurable, it can seem like you are never getting anywhere with your goals. You need to have a measurable goal so that you actually tell when the goal is done. If my goal is to join clubs on campus next semester, I need to set a specific number for how many clubs I want to join, otherwise I am just aimlessly joining clubs with no purpose. If my goal is, "I want to join two clubs in Spring 2017," I will know when I am done with my goal. Be sure to have a goal you can measure so that you know when you have completed it.
I go back and forth on this one, because I am a positive person, but at the end of the day a goal has to be attainable. You can't, feasibly, want to go from a 1.5 GPA to a 4.0 GPA in one semester. Potentially if you know you weren't doing your best, that could be a possibility, but creating unattainable goals really sets you up for failure and hurt. If you make a goal that isn't very feasible it will be hard for you because you may feel let down if you don't accomplish the goal. Set attainable goals so you don't have to deal with the heartbreak of failing at a goal that was too difficult to achieve.
At the same time, you want to push yourself with whatever goals you make, so if you have a 1.5 GPA don't make your goal to have a 1.6 GPA next semester, that is way too easy of a goal. You want your goals to push you, but not push you over a mountain OR barely nudge you.
This is one of the biggest pieces of the SMART goals strategy in my opinion, because it's all about defining your why. Why do you even want to get a 4.0, join another club, or accomplish any of the goals in your second semester plan. This is where you really need to picture your big why. Why are you even in college? What do you hope to accomplish over your time in college? Once you rediscover your big why, you can adequately think about all of your spring semester goals. Ask yourself:
If I accomplish this goal, will it get me closer to my big why?
If you cannot clearly articulate to yourself that this goal for next semester will help you move toward your big why, the goal may not be relevant enough to pursue.
You need a time limit on your goals. You don't want to keep putting off your goals because you chose not to include a specific time frame. So, when it comes to your goals for next semester, it can be as simple as saying I want to have a 3.0 at the end of this Spring 2017. Make it bound to a time so you don't feel the need to put it off further and further into the future.
Obviously your time-based goal can be a little bit different than that. Maybe you want to get an A on your first tests in all your courses for Spring 2017 or you want to have an A in all of courses by mid-terms. Whatever your goals, make them time based.
3. Find Your Encouragement squad
Over the summer I made an awesome post that y'all loved called The Happy Guide To Finding Your People In College. You have to continue to use those strategies and continue finding the people you can depend on even during the spring semester (or any semester) of college. Finding the people who will encourage you, keep you on track with your goals, and kick your butt when you are procrastinating is so important.
Get together with your friends, tell each other your smart goals, and hold each other accountable. You could even make a group message to check into every week with your goals and your accomplishments. People who crush goals together, stay together.
Know When to ask for help
A long time ago I wrote this post called Asking for Help, while it's not my best blogging work, I think there is a lot of truth to the advice given there. Sometimes you need to suck it up, go to your professors office hours, and talk about your issues. It's so easy to just avoid the situation or look away and let the anxiety pile on, but that is not the best thing to do. Instead, go to your professors office hours, a tutor, or even a student who understands the concepts in class better than you. You need to know when to utilize the resources on your college campus.
4. Keep your second semester plan in sight.
In sight, in mind should be your motto when you make a second semester plan. Don't just make all of these goals and forget about them. You are bound to find them one day and be upset if you let this happen. Instead, keep your goals above your desk or as a laptop wallpaper. Make sure you can see your goals everyday so you can recommit to those goals and see how you can bring yourself one step closer to crushing them each day.
My personal favorite way to keep my goals in sight is to either make them a wallpaper using a site like Canva or to add a digital sticky note on my computer. If you like to physically see your goals though, I highly encourage buying a cute white board or you could purchase this adorable notebook from Minted so you can write your goals down, see them, and change them out as necessary.
Creating a second semester plan is very important. You may not have had the best semester in the fall, but you can always turn that around to create a great new semester. The best part of college is that each semester or quarter brings a fresh start. Get out there, make smart goals, and crush it this next semester!