Starting a New Semester: How to Get Organized and Maintain Long-Term Motivation

The start of a new semester is a time of transition.

Usually, this transition is accompanied by high levels of motivation; you’re excited to start your new classes, meet new people, and be done sitting in a cubicle during your summer internship.

A few weeks down the road, though, it’s just as Agent Smith said:

“It is inevitable, Mr. Anderson.”

Inevitably, your high levels of motivation will wane as the semester wears on. That textbook you were so gung-ho to read during the first week will now inspire feelings of utter dread when you even think about opening it.

However, with some good planning at the beginning of the semester, you can mitigate this problem. Sure, you’ll lose some of that initial motivation – but that doesn’t mean you have to run out of steam completely.

In this video, we’ll look at ways to set up good study habits in order to remain as motivated, and generally on top of things, as possible during the whole semester.

We’ll also go over some initial planning hacks that can help you start the semester much more smoothly than a lot of other people do.

If you’re unable to see the video above, you can view it on YouTube.

Looking for More Study Tips?

10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades - Thomas Frank

If you’re looking to make this semester your best one ever, I think you’ll find the study tips in my free, 100+ page book 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less) to be helpful.

The book covers topics like:

  • Defeating procrastination
  • Getting more out of your classes
  • Taking great notes
  • Reading your textbooks more efficiently

…and several more. It also has a lot of recommendations for tools and other resources that can make your studying easier.

If you’d like a free copy of the book, let me know where I should send it:

I’ll also keep you updated about new posts and videos that come out on this blog (they’ll be just as good as this one or better) 🙂

Video Notes

Starting a New Semester: How to Get Organized and Maintain Long-Term Motivation

Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image for sharing this video 🙂

What are some things you do to make sure your semesters start smoothly?

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Images: Brain, derailed, married, castle, bookstore

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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  1. Thank you for the video! I am on my third week of a new semester at a new school, and as a transfer student I am looking for any resources to help me make this a fantastic semester. I make an effort to visit your website or open your book every single day. Thank you so much for everything you do, I tell everyone I meet about College Info Geek!

  2. Hi THomas! Am new here. Thank you soo much for all your videos, they are soo helpful. And thank you for making your book free. But i want to be a computer programmer, but i am having trouble learning it faster. Is there any way you can advise me on this, because i really love programming but am having trouble. Maybe you can do a video suggesting some help. Thanx in advance.

  3. Hi Thomas! I am currently using your website as well as Cal Newport’s to prepare myself for the next semester and ultimately make the most of my college experience. I’d like to know what tips you have for a few things on scheduling:

    1. I’ve been reading about different types of notetaking methods and I really want to get the most out of every one of them. Some notetaking methods need time for further organization.
    2. There is also quite a need to /regularly/ review these notes.
    3. Most of my classes give reading assignments regarding the next topic.

    Question: How do you efficiently schedule those three things?


    • Cal suggests that you build an autopilot schedule for yourself that can withstand the challenges of the current semester. If you have been following him just recently, you will know that he is a big fan of the Q/E/C method, which I think fits quite nicely with the Cornell note- taking system. Search through the site for details on the autopilot schedule.

      As for handling reading assignments, all I can say is that definitely, first thing to remember is that not all assigned readings are equal. Know which ones to skim, take notes on, and disregard completely. Comes with practice.

  4. Hey, Thomas! Thanks for this very nice reminder BEFORE classes begin. I have implemented most of these things and they are a huge help and take the edge off of nervousness for the first day and week. I have found most of my instructors more than happy to answer my questions via email and in fact I found out that my chemistry professor will be using a FREE online textbook and has kindly sent me the link ahead of time to get started on my reading! These tips you give are excellent for all students and every semester. When I need to look up office hours in a pinch, I write them in my planner on the first page since it is pretty much attached to my hip at all times. But I never thought to add it in google calendar; I will try that. I also add those days off from school in my monthly and weekly planner. For some reason it boosts my motivation knowing that I have a day off coming to catch up on other things or read ahead so I work harder at studying since time off is coming close so I can rest! Visual sense of things always does it for me I think. One new thing I will attempt is introducing myself to my instructor in person. This will give me a vibe on how personable the instructor will be and how I can approach them with questions in the future for office hours. Very valuable tips, Thomas. Thank you for this.

  5. Hey Thomas!
    Really, really, useful video..
    It’s makes sense.
    I’m going to try it.

    By the way, Thomas,
    I found myself having difficulty in
    getting back to study after each study session.

    Usually the breaks that I’m taking are about 5 min’s,
    But then my effectiveness drops to the floor.
    When I take longer breaks,
    I find something else to do pretty fast
    and then It’s so hard for me
    to create the study momentum once again.

    Can you give us some tips about it?
    How to manage the breaks
    between the study sessions
    to stay effective?

    Thank you very much,
    also you content is awesome 🙂

    • try switching off your cell phone before you start for me.

    • try not doing anything that you know that distracts you, also try doing smaller breaks if you take fewer breaks you will finish faster.

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