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How to Set Reasonable Expectations for the New School Year

Setting smart expectations for the school year will help you stay on track academically and minimize your stress. Here are a few steps to help you plan ahead.

The start of a new school year can be both exciting and daunting for many students. To combat your feelings of stress, a helpful thing to do as the semester starts is to lay out reasonable expectations and goals for the upcoming year so you can be prepared for what’s to come. Here are a few steps to assist you in planning ahead for a successful academic year.

Reflect on the previous year

A good place to start in setting expectations for the new school year is reflecting on last year. Think about where you were academically in the beginning, middle, and end of the school year and take note of any changes as the year progressed. Did you experience any differences in your study methods or GPA? Did you have to switch or drop any classes? What was your workload like? Were you able to balance your academics, extracurriculars, and social life? As you contemplate, write down the important factors that made significant impacts on your life, but don’t get hung up on the details unless they hold value to your future success. Reflection like this can allow you to see academic and personal areas where you may have made mistakes, what you may have done differently in certain circumstances, and how you would like to take that lesson with you into the future. This first step can set you up for success and allow you to go into the new school year fully prepared.

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Make Your Semester More Mindful

List your strengths and weaknesses

Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses can help you both now and in the future as you learn more about yourself. Making a list can help you identify your weak and strong points to customize your goals and expectations by highlighting or working on them. Set your expectations based on what your strong areas are, then adjust them accordingly based on what you may need to improve. For example, if you think you need to improve your personal responsibility to handle an increased workload for the upcoming year, you can think of ways to space out your work into smaller segments or adjust your schedule to make more time to study. 

Form a detailed list

After completing these first two steps, sit down and create an actual list of all the expectations you have for the school year. Whether it’s related to academics or extracurriculars, write down what you think is most important to consider throughout the year. As you form your points, remember your strengths and weaknesses and find ways to incorporate them into your plan. Take into consideration your reflections as well. Incorporating all these aspects will give you a better overall picture of the year. For example, maybe your math class will be more rigorous than it was the year before, so you’ll have to dedicate more time to study. You know math is a strong suit of yours, but you can’t use that as an excuse to study less. Therefore, you decide to devote a decent amount of time to studying math. This is a detailed point that allows you to clearly state your expectation and relate it back to yourself. 

Related: The Best Back–to–School Advice From Real Students Like You

Setting expectations that are detailed and thoughtful can greatly benefit you. Taking time to make them can be helpful to stay on track during the year and focus on your future. You’ll be better prepared for what’s to come and less stressed when you have to adapt to any surprises that arise.

Find more great advice like this to have a successful and exciting academic year in our Majors and Academics section.

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About Lianna Jacob

Lianna Jacob is an undergraduate student who has gone through the college admission process and wants to share her experience with others! She enjoys learning more about her Christian faith and spending time with family and friends.



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