Starting a new semester at university, whether it be your first, or your last, is exciting. A new semester means a fresh start, new subjects, and an opportunity for you to build your knowledge from what you’ve learnt previously.

When preparing for a new semester, there are three main things that you should do: reflect, set goals, and organise. Doing these will help set you up for a successful semester ahead – you don’t want to feel the stress as soon as you start!

If you need some advice on how to do these three things, keep reading this article!


If we aren’t constantly reflecting on our past experiences and learn from our mistakes, we will not grow and improve ourselves.

Therefore, it is vital that you think about how the previous semester went for you. That way, you can see where you made mistakes and improve on them for the upcoming semester.

You might like to think about some of these questions.

  • Did you attend as many classes as possible, or did you skip some?
  • Did you keep up with your lectures through the semester?
  • Did you complete all the practise questions given?
  • How did SWOTVac go for you?
  • Were you happy with your performance on your exams?
  • How was your work-life-study balance during the semester? 


You should jot down some of your answers to these questions, as you will need to revisit them when you set goals.

Goal Setting

Setting goals help keep you on track and stay motivated throughout the semester.

One good way of setting goals is by using the SMART method. This is a way of setting goals that are useful and achievable. Here’s a brief outline of what it stands for in case you haven’t encountered this before.


S: Goals should be specific.

M: The goal needs to be measurable by a specified quantity.

A: Any goals should be achievable – don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.

R: Goals set should be relevant to you.

T: Give yourself a timely deadline for when you want to achieve the goal by.


Saying that you want to achieve a high distinction in all your classes is not an example of a SMART goal. You actually need to think about HOW you are going to achieve it (unfortunately, manifestation can only go so far).

A goal like this is probably better: To help myself achieve a HD for XXX subject, I am going to read through the lecture slides the day before the lecture, make notes straight after the lecture and complete at least three practise questions every week, for the duration of the semester.

If you are having trouble thinking about what goals to set, look back at your reflection and see if you can identify your weaknesses and areas you can improve on. Not all your goals need to be academic related – perhaps you want to become more social and make new friends. If this is the case, maybe you can challenge yourself to attend at least 3 club events or have lunch with someone from your classes. 

It’s not easy to stick with your goals, especially during busy times in the semester. Therefore, try and think of a plan to reward yourself. Maybe, if you read lecture notes in advance for all lectures in a three-week period, you will buy yourself those shoes you’ve been eyeing.


Of course, before a new semester begins you must get yourself organised! There’s no worse feeling than attending class on the first day back and realising that you don’t have a calculator, your computer storage is full, and you’ve bought the wrong textbook.

Here’s a checklist of things that you should do before you begin. 

  • Organise your digital space
    • Make folders for your subjects
    • Delete any documents you don’t need
    • Backup your old files
    • Download any lecture slides
  • Get your stationery and textbooks ready
  • Organise/make your schedule
    • Make sure your university timetable is ready
    • Plan out any extra curriculars and work around your class/study times
    • Write any key dates (such as exam periods) in a diary/calendar
  • Clean your study area

A new semester is a fresh start, and a new opportunity for you to work towards your goals. By preparing yourself for the semester, you’re more likely to stay motivated and perform well in all your endeavours. Hopefully the advice in this article will help set you up for a great semester ahead – best of luck!