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Semester goals you can actually keep

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JANUARY 22, 2016

As a new semester stretches out before us all, we find ourselves pumped for new experiences. We’ve all made semester goal lists that include impossible tasks like reading every page of our textbooks or going to every class. But like our promises to ourselves to exercise every day and say “no” to that third cupcake, the chances of us actually meeting our semester goals are slim. So, we’ve come up with some goals that are realistic and can be easily accomplished by any student.

Get at least four hours of sleep every night.

We’re going to start this list off easy. Every semester your mom reminds you to get at least eight hours of sleep a night and to try not to stay up past midnight. We think that’s a ridiculous standard for anyone to set for themselves, particularly for a UC Berkeley student. Cut that number in half and you’re left with a short four hours. That gives you enough time to stay up until 4 a.m. studying and still make it to your 9 a.m. class. You could try the nap method and sleep in one or two hour intervals. Four hours is four hours, no matter how you slice it.

Read one-third of all the assigned readings.

Setting yourself up for failure is never fun, especially when you promise yourself that you’re going to read every assigned text and additional reading listed on the syllabus. Down that road lies disappointment. The truth is, at least one of the many books or readings you’re assigned won’t even be touched. And that’s OK because you’re not Superman. Sure there’s that one kid in the front of the class who always has the right answer and has read every text twice, but it’s time to admit that you’re not a robot. Read the syllabus, pick about one-third of the readings and read them.

Take notes for the first 15 minutes of class.

Every student has their own way of deciding what’s important enough to write down. Some students like to utilize sub-bullet points while others go crazy and try to write down everything they hear. Whatever type of notetaker you are, by the end of class your hand is aching and you’ve lost the will to continue. As your handwriting gets sloppier and your ability to transcribe what your professor is saying becomes more difficult, you stop taking notes. We’ve got a solution. Only take notes for the first 15 minutes of class. If you want to go further than that, go further, if you don’t want to, then don’t. Life is all about difficult decisions and sometimes you just need to sit down and absorb the wise words of your professor by ear. If after 15 minutes you still feel like taking notes, continue. Either way, you’ll be satisfied in knowing that you completed one of your semester goals.

Never miss two classes in a row.

Skipping class is a downward slope that only leads to depression and failing finals. You start the semester promising yourself that you won’t skip class for anything, even a slight sniffle. But that slight sniffle becomes a dull headache, and as you slam your hand on the snooze button for the third time, you decide not to go to class. Too often we guilt trip ourselves for taking a much needed mental health day and staying in bed with a cold. As long as you promise yourself that you won’t skip a class two days in a row, then chances are you’ll be skipping down the path to a passing grade. Next time you wake up and think you may be coming down with a cold, ask yourself: Is it worth it to skip today when tomorrow could be even worse? The answer is “no.”

Read the main bullet points on your notes.

When you look at the mess of notes that you took all semester, you realize that they’re scattered about your room as if a hurricane just hit. It’s dismaying. There’s no way you can read everything and, it turns out, you don’t have to. Read the first couple of main bullet points on each page and decide what’s actually worth your valuable free time to study. At the end of the day, you can rest well, knowing you at least touched your notes for a second time.


Contact Sophia Zepeda at [email protected].

JANUARY 22, 2016