Tips for Planning a Successful Semester

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Beth Spencer
Assistant Director, Center for Academic Success

Academic success at Tech doesn’t just happen - successful students plan for it! Here are some tips parents can share with their students as they begin a new semester.

1. Set clear and realistic academic goals for this semester. These can include earning certain grades, managing time more wisely, or studying more effectively.

2. Develop a plan to achieve your goals. Remember that just listing goals is not enough; you must also develop a plan and stay committed to it. This may require weekly or even daily mini-goals, as well as regular check-ins to assess progress.

3. Learn from past successes and mistakes. Reflect on last semester, considering what you did that worked well and what you did or didn’t do that negatively affected your academic life.

4. Get a planner and use it. Whether it’s a paper calendar, online calendar, or a calendar on a smart phone isn’t important. What matters is that you have a way to organize and manage your academic, extracurricular, social and work schedules.

5. Create an overview of the semester. Carefully review all your course syllabi and record dates for exams, projects, presentations, and assignments in your planner. Be aware of course expectations, policies and deadlines. If something is not clear, ask your instructor.

6. Take advantage of academic support resources, especially for difficult classes. Tech offers a number of programs, including tutoring, PLUS (Peer-Led Undergraduate Study), academic success workshops, and academic coaching - all of which are FREE for students, and most are located in Clough Commons. Be proactive and start these activities at the beginning of the semester - not just after the first exam.

7. Commit to attending EVERY class this semester. Attending class, paying attention, and taking notes makes learning the course material easier than doing it all on your own.

8. Prepare for class. Do the assigned readings ahead of time. Work practice problems and do homework, even if they are optional. Develop questions and ask them. Plan to participate in class discussions.

9. Stay focused. In addition to preparing for class, choose to sit in the front of the classroom and pay attention. Resist the temptation to look at email, text friends, or become distracted on your laptop.

10. Plan to connect with faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants (TAs). Introduce yourself, and use office hour visits to discuss questions, strategies for studying, and research, graduate school and career interests.

Georgia Tech’s Center for Academic Success offers programs such as 1-to-1 Tutoring, Peer-Led Undergraduate Study (PLUS) sessions, and Academic Coaching to help students achieve their academic goals. For information about the Center, including a list of variety of campus academic support resources, stop by the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons room 283, call 404.894.1945 or visit


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