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By Jessie Schirrick

The start of a new semester always triggers emotions of excitement and stress for high school and college students alike. Shopping for brand new notebooks and highlighters is always much more fun than actually using them.

The start of a new semester is a good time to outline some goals- academic, health, and career-related. Do you really need to increase your GPA? Or decrease your weight? Been thinking about applying for a new job? There is no better time to start formulating a plan than at the beginning of classes, before you get too bogged down with homework. Often times, people give up on their goals because they don’t think out the tangible steps they need to take to achieve them. Schedule the steps you need to take on specific dates in a planner. Writing down your upcoming assignments and tests in advance allows you to be realistic about the amount of time you’ll need to prepare for them. Scheduling your day in a planner may also help you feel a lot less overwhelmed about your time commitments.

Having your goals written down in a place you’ll always see them can be very motivational. It helps keep long-term goals and short-term impulses in perspective. If you’ve been invited to hang out with friends, but you’ve been wanting to exercise more for a while, being reminded of that will help you make the right decision regarding how you should spend your time. It’s all about prioritizing and keeping in mind the true advantages of fulfilling your needs vs. fulfilling your wants.

Making both mental and physical health a priority will yield some major benefits that will affect every aspect of your life. Make a point of finding sober activities that you like to do so that when you get bored you have a healthy outlet turn to. Both alcohol and marijuana have been shown to cause depression in users, which can result in listlessness and loss of motivation. There is also a risk of becoming addicted, a problem which could affect you for the rest of your life.

If you have a game plan outlined and every intention of sticking to it, it’ll be near impossible to have an unsuccessful semester.