The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Back to reality

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson honored Chancellor Mash for his involvement in programs that look to the future.

Being home and free from exams, quizzes, and projects was great, and laying around watching TV for four weeks was even better. But now, winter break is over and spring semester is heating up.

Have you ever said to yourself, “This is the semester that I’m going to (fill in the blank with a lofty goal)?” The Spectator is here to help you get focused, and accomplish your goals!

Follow these tips from fellow classmates and professionals, and soon enough you won’t even notice the depression of dark, early mornings and a bunch of new classes minus your friends.


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Junior Kristina Matthas said she loves the excitement of starting new classes. She prepares a few days ahead of time by going through her schedule, deciding how many folders and notebooks she needs, and then labels them with her new class titles.

However, Matthas is a rare breed among college students. Getting back into a routine is often difficult and takes a period of adjustment. The hard part about adjusting, though, is it can feel like an excuse to slack for the first couple of weeks.

Holly Hassemer, a math tutoring coordinator for the Academic Skills Center, said it is hard for students to start fresh every semester.

“I think the change of routine is really challenging for students,” Hassemer said. “They need to re-navigate all of the new classes and learn new professors.”

Hassemer, along with her colleagues at the ASC, help students with this transitional period. Whether it be studying for a difficult class, finding reading strategies or just improving a letter grade.

Among the top strategies for starting a new semester strong and staying motivated are time management, systematic studying and planning study vacations.

1. Time management

Staying organized is a huge component to success, according to Hassemer. She said starting habits right away by dedicating time throughout the week puts students in a position to really succeed.

Amanda Richert, a senior organizational communication major, said new deadlines are the worst part of starting a new semester. She said she works to prevent procrastinating and causing herself stress.

“I love making lists and writing everything down, so I know exactly what I have to do,” Richert said. “Deadlines scare me.”

Going through syllabi and writing down important dates early in the semester is the best way to approach deadlines, Hassemer said.

“Don’t look at the semester day by day, but rather as a long-term event,” Hassemer said.

2. Systematic studying

You’ve been there, causally floating through the semester without really much work to keep you busy. But then all of a sudden, it hits you — that huge exam you have next week in the class that you always skip.

Hassemer said a great way to avoid being unprepared for an exam is to study over the course of the content, then studying more aggressively a week before the date.

“Even if students can spend as little as 15 minutes a day … each week, it will help them to be ready for exams and not feel like they missed other things due to studying,” Hassemer said.

Pulling an all-nighter right before an exam is not recommended by the staff in the ASC, although it’s common among students. With systematic studying, students can go to sleep early and arrive at their exam without being stressed the night before.

3. Study vacations

Although Richert plans ahead to avoid falling behind, she said she still has trouble saying no when plans with friends come up.

“The procrastination comes in when my roommates are all watching a movie, and I want to join them, even though I’ve scheduled everything out weeks ago,” Richert said. “Hanging with my friends always seems to take priority over work.”

Hassemer said she likes the idea of a study vacation — otherwise known as a break from studying and school stress for a night.

“They really need to be built in,” Hassemer said. “Its not realistic to study seven days a week. Plan ahead for events so you can enjoy them without the voice in the back of your head making you feel guilty.”

Freshman Christian Larson said it was difficult adjusting to college life, but he has a better feeling going into his second semester.

“I put school first, get that done, and then I can enjoy myself later without feeling guilty,” Larson said. “I schedule in free time with my friends to try to avoid stress.”

A new semester is almost always overwhelming, but doesn’t have to be a cause of stress. Staying motivated throughout the upcoming 15 weeks is possible if you follow the tips above. However, Hassemer cautions trying to completely reinvent yourself.

“Take baby steps — don’t try to become a whole new person at the beginning of the semester,” Hassemer said. “Pick one or two areas to change and be proud of those things, no matter how small.”

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