10 Things To Do Before the Semester Begins

jiffy lube back to school

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Jiffy Lube®. All words and opinions are my own.

If you’re reading this the day it was published, that means tomorrow is my first day of grad school orientation. Up until now, I’ve been prepping for the semester and making sure everything is ready to go for when the semester starts. I’ve heard so many horror stories about grad school and how it will pretty much consume your life so I’ve been trying to get absolutely everything I can in order. This has forced me to think about a lot of extra things that I might not have thought about in the past and I figured I’d compile my best tips into one big post for you all!

Organize your classes.

One of the most important things for me to do before the semester begins is to make sure I have my classes organized the way I want. My method sometimes changes from year to year but I always have at least one notebook designated for each class I take. I also love to color code!

Figure out your note taking method.

This is another thing that puts my mind at ease. There are SO many different ways to take notes. I’ve shared how I take notes in college in the past, but it’s good to refresh your memory and figure out how you’re going to keep your notes organized!

ace your finals

Buy your textbooks and other school supplies.

I usually rent my textbooks since it’s the cheapest option and I love it! It’s so easy to do and saves me a bunch of money. Figure out what books you need and search for them in more than one place and make sure you’re getting the best deal!

Commuting? Make sure your car is ready for it.

I’ve had long commutes to work before but I’ve never commuted to school. It’s a 40 minute drive to Newark from my apartment in West Chester. I know for a fact that it’s important to keep up with your car maintenance but it’s ESPECIALLY important when you’re commuting long distances to school! I hit up Jiffy Lube® this past weekend to get my oil changed and I was so glad I was able to get that checked off my list! You can go to Jiffy Lube® to get your tires rotated too. If you don’t know how often to rotate your tires, the technicians at Jiffy Lube® can help you. They always reference the manufacturers recommendation to make sure you’re getting the best quality vehicle maintenance. FYI: rotating your tires prevents them from wearing out too quickly and unevenly. One of my biggest fears is getting a flat so I definitely try to pay close attention to my tires!

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Get packing!

If you aren’t commuting to school, make sure you start packing as early as you can. It’s so stressful to leave packing until the last minute (trust me, I’ve been there) so make sure you’re doing a little bit here and there in the weeks leading up to move-in!

Find your planner.

I would not be half the student I currently am if it weren’t for my planner. Find one that is functional and works for you. Make sure you put in all your breaks and important dates before the semester starts! You can check out this year’s planner post for some ideas of planners to look into.

Set some goals, get in the right mindset.

Starting a new year/semester can be stressful. Get off on the right foot by working on your mindset and ensuring you’re ready for whatever this semester brings you! Set some goals for yourself. What do you hope to accomplish this semester/year? What are you most looking forward to? What is important to you right now and how can you keep doing that thing while taking classes? Write down your favorite ways to practice self care and make sure you do them periodically. Burn out is SO real in college and you definitely need to make sure you are taking care of yourself first and foremost!

phonetic eyewear

Figure out your first day outfit(s).

Okay, maybe I’m lame because I still care about what I wear on the first day of class but this is definitely something you can plan in advance! It’s easy and fun, too.

Meal prep.

Something I’ve often neglected is meal planning. Start off the semester on the right foot by saving some go-to recipes and planning your first week or two of meals. School is often hectic right from the get go so you’ll definitely thank yourself for having at least your evening meals planned out in advance!

Relax and remember to document it all!

Finally, make sure you RELAX and are prepared to document everything. I regret not taking more pictures throughout college! College is such a special time in your life and you’re going to want to look back on it, I promise. I treasure the photos I have from college because every moment was special and although it’s sappy to say, I’ll never get those moments back! Keep a journal, make a scrapbook, and save everything. Enjoy yourself and study hard… this is going to be your best year yet!

My friends at Jiffy Lube want to make sure you all are ready to go this school year so they gave me a $100 gift card to give away! YAY for free oil changes! You can enter below:

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  • Yaaaas girl, have fun at orientation! I just submitted for the giveaway :) I’m all about keeping my car up and running!

    • Thanks Samantha! Can’t believe you’re already starting year two!

  • Nicole Coppins

    Good luck with orientation!!! All great tips for the semester… unfortunately I still have FIVE weeks to go until I start (thanks to the quarter system…) XO, Nicole // http://www.nicolecoppins.com

    • Oh boy! I don’t know what I’d do with all of that time haha I was itching to go back!

  • Today is my first day of law school (although I took a summer course) and these tips are SO spot on. I can’t wait to read about your grad school journey!

    • Thank you Jordyn! Hope your semester is going smoothly so far!

  • Great tips and good luck! My classes start next week and I am SO ready.

    • Thanks Kate! Hope your semester is off to a good start!

  • Sami Mast

    These are all such great tips! I always want to get my car checked before the new semester because I don’t want something to go wrong!

    The Classic Brunette

    • SO important! It’s literally my worst nightmare for something to happen when I’m far from home!

  • Amanda Faber

    Good luck at grad school!! xoxox

  • I don’t go back to school for another 2 weeks but I’m already planning for it! Good luck in grad school!

    Lauren // http://laurensjourney.com

  • These are such great things to do! I always loved getting my planner organized and setting up my meals for the first week to make everything go smoother!

    • I’m not the best at meal prep but I’ve been trying! It’s so helpful!

  • Organizing is KEY! I get nothing done unless I have everything organized!

  • Okay I’m really going to miss having a move in day this year and first day of classes…but if I was then these tips are perfect!

    Grace | miss-graciela.blogspot.com

    • I know! It’s times like these where I’m thankful I still have a few more years haha

  • mckenna bleu

    This prep for the semester will save you so much time!


    Great useful tips for commuting students. I NEVER thought about organizing my note taking before, that’s something to consider if I go back to schoolz

  • When I was in school, figuring out how to take notes and study was absolutely crucial. I don’t think I got it down until the end of my sophomore year. High schools need to do a better job of teaching students different strategies!

    • I agree! I feel like I barely took notes in high school

  • I always cleaned my room and organized my closet before school started (when I lived at home) or did a major purge of my belongings that I was bringing to college with me when I lived on-or-near campus! It got me off to a strong start when I was all neat and tidy on my first day. Also, a new planner is a MUST! :)

    xoxo, Paige

    • Oooh that’s a good one! I haaaate doing those things so I wouldn’t unless my mom made me but that’s a really great way to start fresh and feel less cluttered going into a new year!

  • Great tips! One thing I always liked doing was walk around campus to see where my classes were. It helped save a lot of time come the first day of class!

    • Oh yes! Definitely a must, especially freshman year!

  • Sarah Rose

    I’m starting in a few weeks and I made sure to go into my computer and make folders for all of my classes/enter my classes into my Google Calendar. It’s great to get the little things out of the way before the bigger things take up all of your time :)

    Great post girl! :)

    • That’s a great idea, I do that too usually!

  • My car is literally in the shop right now getting ready for the drive back lol

  • This is such a great list! It kind of makes me wish that I were going back to school…kinda.

    Molly // Miss Molly Moon

  • Harmony B

    A new year always feels like a fresh start.

  • Anna

    Great advice about the car! What do you drive?

    • Right now I’m driving my boyfriend’s Ford Explorer until I buy my own car!

  • DeAndrea Martin

    All of this is very valuable. The biggest thing to success is too make sure you are organized so that you can limit the amount of mishaps.