How Not to Begin the Semester

By Amanda Tonoli

“Back to school, back to school” — that’s what Adam Sandler cheerily sang in “Billy Madison” as he donned his sneakers and skipped to the bus stop.

Cheerily is the key word. When I start a new semester, I get into this mindset that everything is going to be so much better. I’m not going to procrastinate; I’m not going to fall into the same routine of prioritizing sleep over class and I’m not going to lose my stamina throughout the semester.

Why did I think this so much at the start of this particular semester? Because it’s my last one.

Yes. The last semester. The end of my undergraduate years, as long as I don’t mess it up. Let me just say, though, I’m off to a fantastic start.

I must’ve been under some illusion that school started in February because in my state of denial I was unaware that school started Monday. When I logged onto my portal Friday night, I came to find that I registered for some rather peculiar classes. And in addition to my wide array of courses, I registered for basically the same class, twice.

You can imagine my face when I walked into the same class with the same teacher and the same lesson on my second day.

Another motivation behind making the best of this so-far-a-disaster-of-a-semester is, like many of my peers, the fact that my last semester didn’t go so smoothly.

In “How to Recover From a Bad Semester,” on Uloop from Texas A&M News, published in April 2012, Christina Robinson covers the issue of the bane of every college student’s existence: that bad semester.

“By the time you know it, the end of the semester is almost there and your grades have dropped, you feel drained and unsure of yourself, and some days it takes all you can not to go home and curl up in a ball and cry,” Robinson said.

She reminds us that bad past semesters aren’t failures but more of a learning experience. Robinson follows with encouragement to start making lists of accomplishments to boost self-esteem, reminding one that the infamous bad semester wasn’t a total loss.

“When you’re applying to graduate schools or a job, they don’t care that you weren’t perfect,” Robinson said. “What they want to see is that you were able to adapt and modify when things got tough.”

Although this semester is off to a rough start, my ability to overcome this hardship should prevail and I will come out a success — if I don’t, I’ll wallow in self-pity about having to stay an extra semester.

“Don’t wait until things get so awful that they can’t be fixed. Talk to your professors. Go to study sessions. Put in that extra effort,” Robinson said. “In the end, you’ll feel better about a lower grade if you know that you worked your butt off for it. … College is a time to have experiences, network with peers and to even have fun. It’s when we find that perfect balance that college truly becomes rewarding.”

So the majority of my time so far has been spent in and out of offices explaining that I’m not sure what exactly I was thinking a few months ago when I was getting my final semester situated. But I was serious about making this the best possible semester — the best of the worst situation that I created anyway.