How to get prepared for the next academic year

Did someone say #StationaryPorn?

Shamelessly I am one of those people who has Pinterest board full of pretty study notes, all aesthetically pleasing pastel highlighted and beautiful brush lettering. 

The reality of the matter is, after the first few lectures and seminars, my folders look like an explosion of paper and my notes written by a two year old. 

You know the obvious preparation and study tips, like knowing your syllabus, actually doing the reading and going to lectures, but there are some things you can do before returning for the next academic year and when you arrive, which will help you stay on top of your studies and ace this year!

Get everything you need

It may be tempting to say ‘I’ll file that when I get buy some folders,’ but we both know you won’t and you'd much rather spend that folder money on a cheeky takeaway. 

Be prepared and pick up you school supplies before the start of term. Choose folders that you will use, or notepads with dividers, so you can keep all of your modules separated. This will also help you when it comes to revising. Get yourself a hole punch and plastic wallets and keep things safe and neat in them - and put them in the right places in the folder too! There is no point in having the syllabus right at the end. 

Get some of your favourite pens ready for your first lecture, or see how many you can pick up at Freshers’ Fayre to keep you stocked up for the year.


Yes, aesthetically pleasing coloured notes appeal to me on a deeply personal level - but there is a reason. Colour coding your notes can help you remember things - especially in exam situations. Associate certain colours with particular parts of your notes, as use these consistently throughout your notes for the year. For example, use yellow for key words, pink for quotes, green for important names and so on.


Look at when your lectures are, and treat your studies like a 9-5 job. Got a lecture at 11am? Head in for 9am and do some prep reading, note writing or essay planning. If you know you have an essay due, look to start writing your essay at least 3 weeks ahead. This gives you time for multiple drafts (before showing your tutor), extra reading and time for error. Things do go wrong and unexpected things crop up, but if you make time for it, you’ll already be ahead of the game. 

Don’t just study - study smart. Plus, this is a great thing to have on your CV when looking for a job - employers like to see people who can manage their time effectively.


Different people take their notes differently, and there is no right one way. Some people like to type their notes, others prefer handwritten. Handwriting notes can help you remember them better though, so setting 30 minutes or so a night aside to write up typed notes can make a difference in the long term. 

If you find your digital notes works for you - that’s great! Still look to colour code them to help you when it comes to studying. 

If you hand write your notes in lectures and seminars - look to use the Cornell method of note-taking. It’s seen to be really effective in taking notes and revising from!

Put time aside

This works for two things: your studies, and yourself. 

You need to make time for your studies, to actually do well. On the days you can, treat your degree like a 9-5 working day, and head to your favourite study spot, or to the library and get your head down. This will get you into the study mindset and you’ll find that you feel much more prepared for lectures, seminars, essays and exams. 

But you should also take time for yourself - you know what they say about all work and no play. If you work yourself too hard or into a state, you’ll find that you’ll burnout. Take a day or so off, see your friends, go out for a meal, go on a trip. Although studying is important, so is looking after your mental, emotional and physical self. If you’re not, you won’t be in a good state to study. It’s all about balance.

If you need help or advice, visit or speak to the Union Advice Service.

  Returning Students Page

Like this article? Share it!

You may also like...