Starting (and finishing) Out The Semester Strong

Believe it or not, we’re already six weeks into the Spring semester.

While it’s easy to look forward to Spring break, it’s just as important to start…and finish this semester out on a high note.

Like most of you, I’ve already taken a few quizzes and exams for each of my classes. If there’s one thing I learned from the Fall semester, it’s the importance of starting out the semester positively.

Here’s two ways you can ensure a positive start and finish to your semester:



This might seem like a given, but it’s incredibly easy to slack off on your first quiz or exam, especially if your professor gives you the luxury of dropping your lowest grades at the end of the semester. I’ve found that it’s easier to do well throughout the remainder of the semester if you perform well on your first few quizzes or tests.

Once you do well on that first exam, you’ll set a high standard for yourself going forward. While it’s possible to not to very well at the beginning and still finish out the semester with a good grade, you don’t want to limp to the finish line. Instead, make sure you ace your first exam and give yourself some breathing room going forward.

Here’s a tip on how to set yourself up for success during your first exam via Cal Newport:

Never “study.” The word is ambiguous and tied up with too many emotional connotations driven by guilt and what you think school work should feel like (e.g., tiring, boring, painful). While you’re at it, never “write a paper” or “do a problem set” or “read an assignment.” These phrases are all too vague!

Instead, always follow a concrete plan built around specific actions. When you complete the actions according to the plan you’re done. No more late nights reading and re-reading your notes until you feel like you’ve paid your academic dues. Get specific. Then get it done.



We’ve all taken those classes that don’t require much work to get a good grade. Perhaps you’re taking an introductory level class and you’re able to pass the course without doing all of the required reading or putting a lot of effort into the class work.

But, what if you actually tried to get something out of those classes? After all, you’re paying to take the course, so why not do more than what’s necessary to get a good grade?

Take the time to actually do the readings and remember the key points addressed in the material.

Also, Utica College hosts numerous events throughout the semester. These events usually correlate with some of your classes, so instead of just coasting through the textbook readings, attending speeches or events may help you learn even more about the particular class.


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