How Middle and High School Students Can Prepare for the Upcoming Semester

By: Heather O’Neill


The end of the school semester brings lots of “stuff.” 

  • Stuff scribbled on notepads or random pieces of paper. 
  • Stuff in backpacks. 
  • Stuff in the car (usually wrappings from snacks and empty water bottles)
  • Stuff littered around the house.

I can understand and appreciate the need for a break for students, teachers and parents. I certainly don’t want to speed up your down time, but taking the time to prepare for next semester will put students in a great shape for a productive and smooth start for the new semester in January. 

Here are a few things you can do at home to assist in ensuring that the semester starts off free from clutter and ready for learning lots of new things!  


Update Calendars and/or Agendas

  1. Purchase a new one if needed. Most planners will follow the academic year but if you have one that ends in December, get the new one now …. Not during spring break. Or update your digital one for easy access. 
  2. Add in important dates – holidays, spring break, modified schedule days, exams. It’s reassuring and comforting when you can look ahead and know if your school week will be different from your normal Monday through Friday, 5 day schedule. 
  3. Review the new semester schedule and record any new classes into your planner. Put them in an order you will use. Be prepared for the first day of classes!

Organize Your Binders

  1. Remove the papers you will not need for the new semester. 
  2. Store them in a safe place at home to use when studying for finals. Do NOT throw them out! 
  3. Be sure to keep access to syllabi and other class specific rules/procedures you will need.

Clean out your backpack

  1. Get rid of the snacks that are squished at the bottom of your bag. If you’re wondering where the protein bar you packed 3 weeks ago ended up, it’s probably at the bottom of your bag. 
  2. Empty the trash – not only snack wrappings or crumbs, but unusable pens, pencils, highlighters and other random things that seem to have accumulated over the semester. Get rid of the clutter that weighs you down. 
  3. Wash/wipe your bag down – Your bag most often sits on the floor, where there’s lots of foot traffic and you guessed it – germs. Before you put your newly organized notebooks/binders, pens, pencils and snacks back into that bag make sure it’s clean. Sanitize away!

Clean Out Your Car!

  1. Cluttered cars can decrease your gas mileage up to two miles per gallon! Save your sanity and your money by cleaning your car. 
  2. Your sense of smell also plays an important role in your  mood, stress, and working capacity. By starting the day in a less-than-fresh smelling vehicle, you may hinder your ability to be at your best. By starting the day in a vehicle that has a pleasing aroma to you, you put yourself in a position to have positive thoughts, emotions and behavior.   
  3. Studies have shown that people who have a clean car are less stressed, have more energy and are happier. This will boost your school performance. Who knew that a clean car could do so much for you?

Organize Your Home Workspace

  1. When you have an organized, dedicated workspace at home you save time, energy and valuable brain power. When you don’t have to worry about clearing out an area, having access to an outlet for charging devices or how well lit a space is you are able to begin working immediately. 
  2. Your space should be:
    • Free from clutter with space for your computer, books and notebooks
    • Well lit – if you can’t see it, how will you be able to read it?
    • Close to an outlet – it’s inevitable that you will need to charge your device. Set up an extension cord if needed. Take the time to do this before you start studying to ensure you focus your time and energy on the academics and not the distraction of finding an accessible outlet. 
    • Free from your cell phone – charge your phone in another room, on silent. If you use your phone as a clock/watch, get a small one for this space. Don’t give yourself excuses to keep your phone nearby. Your workspace should be for studying not snapchat. 
    • Comfortable – Sit in a chair that you will be comfortable in – not lounging/napping in but one that will keep your feet on the floor and in a position where you will be alert, engaged and ready to learn. 
  3. Set this up before school starts. When you are prepared for the semester ahead you will feel more confident, positive and ready to take on the academic challenges that await. 


Best of luck for a great start to your spring semester in 2020!

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