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  • Michelle Sheldrake

Tips for ... starting a new semester


During the recent mid-year semester break I had clients contact me asking what they could do to prepare for the next semester so as to avoid the last-minute rush to work on and submit assignments, and the subsequent raised stress levels. What was great is that all of them had taken the first step in their preparation – the awareness that the way they had been approaching study was not supportive and a change was needed.



For me, taking simple steps to prepare for a semester of study or a project at work (or both), feels more like working with space rather than time. When I know what’s ahead, even though there are always surprises, I feel better equipped to keep moving with the flow of life so that the unexpected causes less disruption. When I focus only on one thing, or on the encroaching deadline be that at work or university, then it’s easy to notice the rising nervous tension, anxiousness and stress in my body which then ripples out to affect all areas of life.


Regardless of whether it’s your first semester at university, or the beginning of a new semester of your studies, be that on campus or online, there are a few simple things you can put in place by way of preparing yourself and minimising the impact of multiple deadlines on your body, your work and your home life and vice versa.


Support your body. Your body comes first and if it is not supported then none of the following matters. At times of stress and when we feel the pressure of time it is often our diet, sleep and exercise that suffers when what is truly needed is a deeper commitment to supporting our body. Having a fit and well body is our best support.


Access your course materials (e.g. unit outline, assessment details) as soon as they are available and identify key dates and assessment due dates.


Map out key dates across all areas of your life, study, work, family and friends. This allows you to see assessment due dates alongside key work and family commitments, identify the pressure points and where you have wriggle room.


Review assessment instructions and seek clarification if needed. Understanding the assessment/assignment topics and what is expected supports you to identify the most relevant information and materials from lectures.


Access suggested readings and resources for the unit as early as possible.


Start background research on assignment topics as early as possible, if relevant.


Be prepared to prioritise. At certain points in the semester study may well have to take priority over social events, and at times other areas of life will take priority over study. There is space for it all.


Line up the support you might need, be that with study, work or home life e.g., childcare support, leave days from work, support with assignments.


Set up your study space so it supports you and confirms your amazingness. It is your space so let it reflect you in colour, order, pictures and more, or less if you like a super clear space.


*Photo credit: Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

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