Start Your College Semester The Right Way!

Starting anything new can be an intimidating experience. With new classes and people, a college semester is no exception! The way that you start a semester is often very telling of how you will finish it. Prepare to set yourself way ahead of your peers and don’t slack off until you’ve earned it!

Here is my strategy to starting out strong and beginning your college semester on the right foot! These are small and easy steps, but they will pay off for the end! Let’s get started…

Set Yourself Up For Success!

No one knows you like you do! Be more disciplined, driven, and organized at the beginning so that you have more time later in the semester to relax and enjoy life!

You know the best ways for you to focus, work, and relieve stress! Set up your dorm or apartment for the best flow and inspiration for YOU. The lighting, decorations and nearby amenities all matter!

If you know you work best by a window and while drinking coffee, your desk should be near a window with a coffee maker on it! It seems overly simple but you are preparing to save time and increase your productivity. Make your space comfortable and efficient for your style of studying and working.

In college, you are your own boss. You design your “office” so that you can get more done in less time and relax at the end of your day. However, please avoid clutter and allowing your space to become one giant distraction.

Clean your space and get organized BEFORE the work comes. It will be an uphill battle the entire semester if you wait to get organized. Prepare your calendars, agendas, and your folders. Create spaces on your desk or in your computer’s documents for certain classwork and information (labeled by course codes). This will allow you to immediately store what you need and eliminate the future pile of papers or disorganized desktop.

With a clean environment and healthy, efficient set-up, you’re ready to get the best grades of your life!

Say No To Everyone Else’s Plan! Your Peers Will Get It Wrong

Most students start their college semesters the wrong way. During the first week, often called syllabus week, most students slack off because many courses do not provide immediate work. They go to the pool, hang out with friends and party before the stress of coursework hits.


This is the wrong strategy and they will be very stressed when exam time comes (and probably wonder why…asking you for help because you followed my strategy and everything just comes easy to you).

I am not saying that you shouldn’t make time to enjoy yourself, but it needs to be planned. Syllabus week is the absolute BEST time to get prepared and to get ahead!

If you use the first week to plan out your semester, you will have more time and get better grades than your peers that want to “go wild” before they have done anything worthwhile.

Your “Cheat-Sheet” That No One Tells You About!

For every course that you take in college, the professor will give you a document outlining everything you need to know about the course to be successful. You are literally given the cheat codes and hacks to the game.

This document is the SYLLABUS. Do not throw it away or burn it…you savage. This contains the professor’s policies, rules, and most importantly their grading methods. You need to read through the syllabus very carefully and highlight or underline important information.

The syllabus will usually tell you when assignments are due, the dates of quizzes or exams, and even the point value for your grades. (If it is not in the syllabus, check your online portal for the grade book which will show you how many points each assignment is worth). Write these dates on a calendar and set up reminders!

Use the syllabus week to plan out when you want to start studying for exams, writing term papers or work on a project by using the due dates given to you. This is so much better than waiting around until the professor or your peers start talking about the graded event!

My semesters and life in general changed completely when I began mapping out my semester on a desk calendar, and planning for the grades I wanted to get by using the syllabus. I calculated the minimum amount of points required to get an A in the course, and I highlighted the assignments or exams that were worth the most points.

From there, I knew which low-point assignments to not worry about, and which high-point assignments to devote my time to.

This is one of my strategies for getting awesome grades with lower effort. Check out my keys to college success and my expert study tips for even more methods!

Get Ahead of The Game to Win the Game!

As soon as you know about an assignment or paper, get started on it! Even if it is just a short description of a paper or assignment in the syllabus, go ahead and get it started. The hardest part of overcoming procrastination is starting the work itself. Once something is started, it is easy to continue and eventually finish!

Do you want to get great grades while having no stress and enjoying college? THIS IS HUGE.

You may be saying, “But Hudson, it is the first week and I don’t even know any material to start writing the term paper.” That’s fine! Do not let that limit you from starting it! Open up a Word document and type out the title of the assignment before saving it as that title in a folder labeled as that class.

For example, if I read in the syllabus that a term paper was due in three months on the political affairs of Afghanistan in the 1990s, I would open a document and type “Afghanistan Politics in the 1990s, by Hudson S.” Then I would save it in a folder labeled “Middle Eastern History” or whatever the course is called.

This will save you time later and make it so much easier to open the assignment and work on it when you receive information or guidance from the professor!

During the first three weeks of the semester, be a monk… I’m serious. If you attack your assignments and material early on in the semester when it is “easier”, then you will set yourself up with a foundation that mean more free time and better grades with less effort later.

Think about it this way; the more you work now, the less you work later. If you don’t want to be crying and cramming for a whole weekend in the library before exams, grind more now at the beginning and laugh at your peers who want to party before they’ve earned it.

Don’t Wait or Procrastinate. Dominate!

If you adhere to the above strategy to starting a semester and follow the tips on my other pages about college success and studying, you will be leagues ahead of your peers in grades, free time, and happiness!

College is more than just a degree, (hence the name of my site). You deserve to enjoy yourself and make new experiences with friends that you will remember for a lifetime!

Don’y let college memories be filled with late-nights of stressful cramming and calling your parents crying. Leave that to the amateurs who haven’t found my website and dominate all aspects of college!

Get the ball rolling on your semester plan and kick it in to high gear for the first three weeks!

Then, you can taper down the intensity as the semester goes on. If you start out with amazing grades, you have a strong foundation that will allow for mess-ups or when “life” occurs. Build the cushion early on in case you fall, and if you fall, you’ll bounce back higher than before!

Recap of the Above so you can Conquer College!

  1. Clean and organize your living space.
  2. Prepare your study space for maximum productivity for YOU (lighting, inspiration decorations, a coffee-maker, mini-fridge, desk lap, etc).
  3. Read and take notes on the Syllabi in your classes (yes, print them out).
  4. Use a desk calendar and journal to plan the events and deadlines of your semester. Decide at the beginning when you will start writing papers, studying for exams, and beginning projects based on the due dates in the syllabus.
  5. Get started on anything you can, even if it is only creating a Word document and folder!
  6. Attack your reading and assignments as intensely as you can during the first three weeks so that you can start off ahead in your classes.
  7. Look forward to having more time, less stress, and greater happiness than your peers by getting a jump on your semester!

Let me know in the comments below if this helped you or if you need more tips!

Also, feel free to let me know if there is a topic you would like for me to post about. I am here to help ensure that you get the most out of your college experience and achieve more success in every area.

Conquer College and Dominate Life!

-Hudson, LikeTheRiver




  • glenn rivera

    I found this to be an article of great use to so many people because most people are going to be in college anyways whether they are going for a 2 year or 4 year degree or better. I also found it to be true that many students dont realize the importance of the syllabus and brush off the instructor’s going over as just taking up time for no reason. Then get hurt later in the course. This advice will certainly be of help, especially those who are serious about their college work.

    • Hudson

      Thank you for your kind words! It crushes me that so many students throw away the first week of college and never use the syllabus to the extent of its value. I really hope this reaches more students so that they can unlock more success every semester!

  • Reyhana

    I still take some part courses although I work full-time and this has helped me see the incredible benefits of starting everything early. What you say makes sense! When others want to party at the start of the semester when there is no homework or assignments, that’s the best time to try and get ahead of things as much as possible, because it will mean less work and less cramming to do things at the last minute later. This has really opened my eyes to how I can be efficient with my time. Thanks.

    • Hudson

      I’m so glad it helped and I wish you the best in your courses! I learned this the hard way after too many semesters of wondering how I had gotten so behind by the mid-term exams. Looking at my peers who were frantically cramming, I knew there had to be a better and easier way! Thankfully, I found it has to do with the very start, and then the studying strategy as well!

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