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Advice / Career Paths / Training & Development

9 Ways to Kick-Start the School Year

It’s been a good summer. You finished your internship, updated your resume, and finally read that bestseller on your nightstand. But now it’s time to get back to business—or, more accurately, back to grad school.

In case you’re struggling to say goodbye to summer days, here are nine things you can do to get back in gear:

1. Reconnect With Everyone

If you’re having the back-to-school blues, you can bet everyone else is, too. So, host a happy hour for your classmates. Catch up on everyone’s summer happenings, and find out how internships, jobs, or travels have influenced their post-graduation plans. Also ask what people learned over the summer—they’re bound to have industry insights, job prospects, or fresh ideas to share.

2. Set Goals

Before things get busy, spend an afternoon writing down your goals for the academic year. Would you like to apply for international study or submit your first article for publication? Whatever your aspirations, identify them now, before you get swept up in your work, so you can begin to work toward their completion.

3. Meet With Your Advisor

The beginning of the year is the best time to reconnect with your advisor or mentor, share your goals, and make sure that your expectations for interaction over the year are aligned. How often will you meet and what will you cover during your sessions? Where will you need her support the most? Also, make sure you leave your first meeting with a second one on the calendar.

4. Chat With Your Program Coordinator

Then, schedule an appointment with your program coordinator to make sure you’re on track for graduation and to ask what’s next. Just a few of the topics you may want to cover: Do you need to file a plan of study? Are you enrolled in the correct number of units? Do your courses meet program requirements? What’s being offered next semester—and what’s not?

5. Talk With Your Graduate Career Counselor

Campus career counselors are vastly underutilized resources—and this is true at the graduate level, too. Career counselors can help you identify your interests and strengths, determine your transferable skills, and explore new career aspirations. It’s important to meet with a career counselor in addition to your advisor and program coordinator because she can help you look at the big picture: What are you passionate about? Why are your goals important to you? How can school help you get where you want to go?

Before the semester really gets underway, set up an appointment to make sure you take advantage of this service.

6. Start Reading

As soon as you have your syllabi, make a reading plan for the semester, outlining exactly what you need to read and when. Also build in an accountability system: For example, if you’re planning to read four books per week, schedule a weekend treat that you can earn if you meet your objective. Frozen yogurt, a trip to the beach, dinner out, it’s yours—if you get your reading done.

Then, head to the library or bookstore and start reading. Believe me, you will thank yourself later for getting a head start now.

7. Sign Up For a Rec Class

Alright—now on to your personal life. Make sure that you don’t lose the health benefits of an active summer within a couple weeks of sitting all day at school. Sign up for a recreation class to maintain your routine and to combat stress. Spin, yoga, weight circuits, and dance are all great options. Most schools offer affordable student rates, and remember: The sooner you sign up, the more you’ll get out of the class fee.

8. Make and Freeze Extra Meals

Your schedule is about to get a lot less predictable, so take this time to prepare meals that you can freeze (and eat on a random Thursday evening when you come home at 11 PM and that box of mac and cheese is calling your name). Check out these freezer-friendly meals for inspiration.

9. Sleep

Welcome week may involve a lot of social activities, but make sure you don’t get behind on sleep before the semester even starts. You want to be rested and ready to go when it matters. So, do yourself a favor and actually get those eight (or nine) hours you won’t have the luxury of later in the semester.

Now you know what you need to do to set yourself up for success this semester—so get to it! Good luck.

Photo of woman studying courtesy of Shutterstock.