Five tips for starting a new semester

After a hectic and difficult semester back in person, now is the perfect opportunity to reset


graphic created by Hailey Cordell

Fresh start: Second semester is here! Before barreling ahead, it’s a good idea to pause and do some reflection about this last semester and how the next one could be improved. The return to full-time in-person learning increased the workload and stress level for many students. “It got ten times harder being back in person,” junior Kelly Nguyen said.

It’s a new year and a new semester, the perfect time to reset and start fresh! Our first semester back in person in over a year has been a challenge: adjusting to different workloads, increasing the number of classes, bumping up the number of assignments, and tightening deadlines. 

“It got a lot harder. Teachers are giving assignments every single day of the week instead of just one assignment for the whole week,” senior Isabella Hoget said. 

Due to COVID cases increasing in the community, people are raising questions about whether learning will continue in-person or shift to online for a short period of time. It’s difficult to think about entering a new semester when we aren’t sure what it will look like.

Having compassion for oneself is important when entering a new semester, no matter what the challenges faced in semester one may have been. 

Don’t expect yourself to make a full one-eighty if semester one was challenging for you. Make small changes and realistic adjustments. 

Junior Kelly Nguyen plans on maintaining a realistic pace.

“Just keep steady, get through high school, that’s it,” Nguyen said.

Reorganize your desk/homework space

Start by getting rid of any trash and random papers you’ll no longer need for next semester. Changing up a workspace can be motivating and encourage you to use it more. Don’t stress out by making everything completely organized; shove any junk into a box and put it away. Out of sight out of mind. 

I like to keep colorful pens on my desk to make my homework fun. I organized my desk with some caddies and baskets from the dollar store. Adding some cute elements to your desk can also motivate you to get work done. 

Clean out the backpack 

Dump out every pocket of your backpack onto the floor. Get rid of trash and broken or used-up supplies. Replace notebooks and other supplies for a fresh start.

If you struggle with the weight of your backpack like me, try putting all of the heaviest items in your backpack closest to your back and lighter items furthest away.


Create a  realistic schedule and support system 

If you have work, sports, or other after-school obligations, it can be overwhelming to get home exhausted at the end of the day and still make time to do homework; so don’t. Create a study/homework schedule that is realistic for you.

Finding homework help from teachers or friends at lunch, or working on homework at school before the bell can help relieve stress. If you’re struggling to find time to complete assignments, talk to your teachers and see if they can accommodate you in terms of deadlines. 

Personally, I like to do a lot of homework in advance on the weekends to get ready for the upcoming week. That way, I don’t have much to worry about during the busy school days. If you come home tired and still have homework to do, take a nap or relax a bit before you start. Eat a nice meal or treat to snack on while you work to keep yourself happy! 

Whatever it may be, create a game plan!

It could also be helpful to create a support system of friends and family to keep yourself accountable for your new plan. A support system can help you when you’re stressed out and need to be reminded to take care of yourself. 

Talk to teachers and counselors 

Teachers are here to help you learn. If the first semester was a struggle, talk to your teachers about how you need them to support you. This could be conversations about your homework load, struggling with a topic or needing additional encouragement and support. Show up for yourself! 

Unfortunately, not every teacher will be receptive or accommodating to all of your needs. Try not to let this get you down, be proud of the fact that you are putting effort into your education. 

In addition to talking to teachers to get ready for a new semester, it’s a good idea to check-in with your counselor about your credits and plan for the rest of your high school career. Your counselor can also be there to talk to if you need help with non-school-related things!  

“For people who are failing a class, they should see us. We might be able to help them strategize,” Counselor Angela Riebli said.


Celebrating semester one was hard for a lot of us, if you met all your personal goals or if you didn’t, be proud of all that you accomplished. Celebrate by getting a favorite treat or spending extra time with friends doing something you enjoy. Personally, I like to relax by watching TV or reading a good book. Don’t worry about doing something “productive”, you’ve had enough of that.