Returning College Students: What To Do Before the Quarter Starts

The End (of Summer) is Near

The End (of Summer) is Near by Pat Bagley Copyright 2012 Cagle Cartoons

I know you don’t want to think about it… but as quarter-system students, we are inevitably reminded that school exists about a month too early, as all our semester-system friends are sucked back into the vortex of classes, papers, and exams. So rather than being tempted to bury your head in the sand, as the sand is still nice and warm from that summer sun, spend a little bit of time preparing for the upcoming year. If you succeed, you may be able to hold on to that relaxed summer-break feeling just a little longer. Here are some tips for your to-do list before classes start again.

1. Reduce your video consumption. It’s nice to have summer to stay up to 3 am watching all the way through that season of your favorite TV show or to watch a different movie every night, but it is most definitely going to mess with your ability to concentrate during the school year. Start cutting back on your YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc consumption so you can start the year off with a longer attention span.

2. Scheduling! Your schedule for the next quarter shouldn’t just include your classes; be sure to add in work, appointments, scheduled study time, etc. However, unless you enjoy having every minute planned out, you should also schedule in ‘slush’ time, entertainment time, and sleep. Give yourself a little room to move things around, get delayed, and have fun for a bit.

3. Start reading through your textbook if you can get it in advance. Most of us fall off the required reading wagon at some point during the school year, so if you can get some reading done before it starts, not only will you be ahead in class, you’ll save some study time during the workload-intensive season and will be more likely to get through the entire text before you cut it from your busy schedule.

4. Learn from last year’s mistakes. Identify the sticky spots or stagnating “to do”s that held you back last year and develop a plan to fix them or move forward this year. Whether it was procrastination or lack of motivation to expand your skills or experience in some way, there is plenty of advice available online, amongst your older friends, or (*gasp*) with your advisors. Make a game plan and timeline to help you move forward this year.

5. Revisit your ultimate goals for college. Ask yourself whether they still apply, whether you have made significant progress towards them, and what you need to do this year to make sure they happen. Have your interests changed? Alter your goals correspondingly and make sure that you account for what new things you need to do and how much time you have to do them.

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

― William ShakespeareShakespeare’s Sonnets

Here is some advice from other students (please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below)


– Buy your textbooks (with any luck, from somewhere cheaper than the bookstore).
– Preview the material for any really difficult classes (eg. start reading early, or go over some o-chem before the professor does).
– Get organized! A planner or calendar will do wonders in getting off on the right foot at the beginning of the school year.
– Become (re)acquainted with all your school and city have to offer; a new year is a new chance to get involved and do awesome things.
– Don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the summer while you prepare for the start of classes!


– Buy a dry erase board, and put your “to do” list on it everyday. Try to finish the tasks you put forth on it daily, erase, repeat.


– Take one last trip or do something that you won’t be able to do during the school year!

Need more pointers?

Psych Central has many articles about procrastination, its cures, study tips, etc.

This article has some advice for incoming college students that can also apply to returners.

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