Hello! My name is Nicole Stella and I am the Director for the UNLV GEAR UP ASPIRE Scholars Program. ASPIRE is a pipeline program for middle school students interested in STEM and Health Sciences – we start with students in 7th and 8th grades and support them through their first year of college. I’ve spent most of my career in higher education working with first year college students and finding ways to support their success. One of the things we know in higher education is that the first six weeks of a new semester are crucial to your success for the whole academic year, whether you’re in middle school, high school, or college. So, with that in mind, I have compiled six suggestions to help you make the most of your first six weeks!

Week 1: Figure out the basics.

Many of you may be at a new school, not just starting a new year! So, take the time to get to know the layout of your school, find the cafeteria, figure out where your classes are located and how to get to each of them during the passing period. You’ll also need to understand the basics of your classes – start with your syllabi! They should have all the information you need in order to understand how to be successful in your classes.

Week 2: Make some plans and get comfortable.

It’s time to break out your planner! Whether you use a paper or electronic version, get all your homework, assignments, and important dates written down. Now that you know what is absolutely required, you can look for new opportunities.

Week 3: Learn about what else is out there.

Once you have the basics down, start branching out! This week is a great time to check out clubs, extracurriculars, and activities at your school. Take the time to get to know the other students in your classes and outside of class.

Week 4: Set your goals.

Outside of the minimum requirements to do well in school, what do you want to accomplish the semester? Ask a teacher (or the internet) about SMART Goals and set a few for yourself – think both short term and long term!

Week 5: Take an inventory.

You’re through the first month! You have probably figured out how to do well in classes and get through each day. Now is the time to consider how things are going. Start with yourself – how do you feel? Are you rested, eating well, and spending time with family and friends? Next, how are you doing academically? Think about your study skills and habits – are they helping you succeed? Ask for support and make changes as needed.

Week 6: Just keep swimming.

You’ve made it through the beginning of the semester! You probably have exams, assignments, and exciting plans for the holidays coming up. Keep your goals in mind and just keep swimming!