Starting a new semester? Would you like this semester to look differently than previous semesters? Get ahead of the game.
First, get a calendar or planner. Use what works for you. Some students like a print calendar or planner, others like to use an app on their phone or iPad, others feel comfortable with Google calendar. Whatever you prefer, make sure you use your calendar every day. The first thing to put on your calendar is your schedule. Actually mark your class times on your calendar. You might use a different color for each class. For instance, everything associated with math class might be written or typed in blue, everything for history might be in red, etc. Using the same color, record any known due dates. Have a paper due in February? Put it on the calendar. Know when Spring Break is? Put it on the calendar. Don't forget to put extra curricular activities, work hours, and tutoring hours on your calendar. Also make sure you schedule some fun -- it gives you something to look forward to. Creating a calendar may take a chunk of time right now, but you probably don't have an excessive amount of homework at the moment, so use your study time to get organized starting with this calendar. It will save you countless hours and missed due dates in the future.
Second, create a folder for each class you are taking. Continue in your color theme, if possible. Again, use a physical or electronic folder, whatever works for you. From this day forth, any assignment, any note, any handout for this class must immediately go in the folder. This way you won't spend valuable time hunting for documents. They will always be in their designated folder.
While you are at it make sure you have all necessary supplies for the semester -- books, pens, pencils, paper, extra batteries for your calculator, and whatever else you might run out of in the middle of a deadline. Get it on hand now.
You may have already thought of all of the above, but my million dollar tip of the day is to go introduce yourself to each instructor, before or after class, even if they already know you. You might say something like this, "Hi, my name is Sue. I'm in your Introduction to Speech class. I am looking forward to learning this semester and wonder if you would share one tip for success with me." This does a few things -- it breaks the ice for you and for the instructor. If you have already introduced yourself, any future meetings will go more smoothly. It demonstrates to your instructor that you are serious about learning. Also, if the instructor knows your name, she is more likely to notice you in class. This builds relationship and accountability for you and for her. She may call on you more, which will increase your attentiveness. You will know she notices you, which will help you be more engaged.
Give it a try, and have a great semester!