Tools for Success: 10 Ways to Prepare for Next Semester Over Holiday Break

By Tracey Rector, Alumna of IUPUI

It’s winter break, which means finals and the stress of the semester is finally over. However, school will start up again before you know it.

No worries though, there are ways to enjoy the break and prepare for the upcoming semester at the same time.

1. Find Classes and Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

Print out your schedule for the upcoming semester and work on becoming adjusted so it isn’t such a shock. A good time to start is a week before classes begin. Take a look and find what you might struggle with and get used to it. For instance, if you have a dreaded 8 a.m. class on Tuesdays, get up early the Tuesday before or if there are any classrooms you aren’t familiar with, find them ahead of time so you aren’t searching on the first day of class.   

2. Keep Your Brain Stimulated

The last thing you want to do during your break is think about learning but thanks to apps and games, there are ways to keep your mind going and have fun at the same time such as Words with Friends, Sudoku, etc.

3. Download Syllabi

Many professors post their upcoming course syllabi over break. Download and review them so you know what you can expect.

4. Plan for a Healthy Semester

It’s easy to get busy during the semester and leave your health behind. Avoid this by adding your health into your lifestyle. Plan meals, snacks and workouts based on your school schedule.

5. Explore the Campus

College campuses are full of resources you wouldn’t know about if you don't look for them. Take a day just to explore what your campus can offer you. Perhaps there is a tutoring center for a course you struggle with, a club or group you’re interested in or free transportation or a shortcut you never knew about. 

6. Get Supplies and Organize

From planners and colored highlighters to binders and dry erase boards, there are all kinds of ways to become organized. If you weren’t so organized last semester, figure out what will work for you. On the other end, if you already have a method that works for you, buy all your supplies and get everything ready so all you have to do Monday morning is grab your backpack and go.

7. Meet with Professors for Classes You Struggle With

If there is a class you’ve been dreading because it’s one you struggle with, make it easier on yourself (and your professor) by meeting with them ahead of time and explain what’s difficult for you. It can be an email or a quick visit to their office, but meeting with them upfront will not only look good on your part, but it will help both of you make the semester as successful as it can be.

8. Student Loan Refunds

Depending how your student loans are set up, you may get a nice big check in the mail from your lender. But before you get excited and spend all of the money, remember you will have to pay it back when you graduate. That being said, if there are things you need for the semester and don’t have the extra cash, your refund might be your way to get what you need. Once you have everything, whether it’s supplies, clothes or a new laptop, take what money is leftover and pay it back. The more you can pay back during school, the less that total bill will be.

9. Networking, Internships and the Job Search

This is something you should do throughout the semester, but you may have more time to search during break. If it’s your freshman or sophomore year, start looking for ways to network in the field you’re majoring in — and even some internship opportunities. If you’re a junior and don’t already have an internship under your belt, get one lined up. If you’re a senior, start the job search now. While you might not graduate until May, it never hurts to make connections now because many times it can take months to get a job.

10. Relax!

You’re on break for a reason: to relax! You just had a long, tough semester and deserve a break. Catch up on sleep, watch your favorite shows and spend some quality time with friends and family before the madness starts up again.


Image: Stuart Miles /

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!