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Starting the Academic Year off Right

If I told you that I knew how to perfectly start off an academic year, I would be lying. Just for reference, before I started my first year in community college, I didn’t know that I could set up a meeting with an academic advisor from my school. My best friend’s mom helped me set up my course schedule. I can honestly say that I went into my first year of college completely blind. Not to mention, my first year was online due to the pandemic, meaning that I have only just started on campus for my second year.

There is so much uncertainty when it comes to the beginning of an academic year. You don’t know what to expect from your courses, your professors, or fellow students. Pandemic or not, online or in person, most students will have the same worries and fears about the start of a semester. Although I am no expert yet, I do have some tips to help put some of these worries to rest.

Have the essentials.

It is smart to prepare the bare essentials that you will need for the full academic year. My best tip is to keep a binder for all the important materials that you will receive from each course. In my binder, I keep folders for each course, with the syllabus, schedule, due dates, and any other important documents from the professor. I also keep loose leaf paper just in case I write any special notes for the course.

Get in contact with your professors.

One of my best tips to feel a bit more comfortable with any professor is to send them an email before the start of the semester. Introduce yourself briefly, and ask if there is anything important that you need to know before the first day. This will set a good impression for yourself, and kickstart a good relationship with your professor. Trust me, you will feel much more comfortable asking questions in class when you have already introduced yourself.

Ask alumni/other students for advice.

One thing that is really helpful is getting prior knowledge from alumni, or students that are on the same path as you. Students taking the same major as you should be in similar courses, so make sure that you ask around just in case you need some guidance from a friend. Posting on your school’s pages or forums like Facebook can be a valuable source of advice from alumni with the same major!

Get involved with campus opportunities.

Most schools will have some kind of club/opportunity fair where you can browse all of the things that your school offers. Joining these types of groups can help you make friends, gain experience, and it looks great on a resume!

Stay organized.

I know this can be hard with everything that occurs in the beginning of an academic year, but try your best to stay organized. Being organized in the beginning is crucial for the rest of the year. Make sure that you have separate folders in your computer to organize your courses and any important documents. A good habit at the beginning of any academic year is to keep a calendar or planner. Having a planner can really help you stay aware of due dates, past assignments, and important term dates.


I understand how it can be difficult to figure out what to do, and who to talk to in the beginning of your academic year, but with these essential tips, I hope this may seem a bit easier. By starting the year off right, you are destined to succeed. And the best part is, you don’t have to follow these tips if they don’t feel right to you! Everyone starts their school year differently. For the sake of this article, I am just relaying what works best for me! What works best for you is a decision that only you can make. I wish the best of luck to all of you ambitious people!


Emalie Lasko is a second year Liberal Arts student at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. She isn’t sure about her major yet, but she is working on transferring schools in the near future. Emalie is an EWAAB intern who publishes Professional Development Toolkits on the website. In her free time you can find her working or hanging out with her sister. Her hobbies include fishing, hiking, and surfing.

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