How to Prepare for a New Semester (For Moms in College)

Practical tips to help you prepare for a new semester in college

For moms in college, knowing how to prepare for a new semester can be the difference between having a good and relatively stress-free semester or having a bad semester.

When I was in college, I always tried to plan for a new semester because I didn’t want a semester that would make me hate my life or leave me feeling like I made a bad decision going back to school. Though I knew I couldn’t control everything or anticipate every problem, I knew there were some things I could do that would make my semester better.

I am sure you’d like to go through a new semester with the least amount of fuss or stress.

If you are looking forward to a relatively smooth and easy semester, here are a few things you can do to prepare for a new semester in college.



You can’t prepare effectively for a new semester without reviewing the previous semester. By reviewing the previous semester, you can identify what worked and what didn’t work so well, so you can make some improvements in the new semester.

One of the reasons lots of moms struggle in college is that they keep doing the same thing over and over (whether or not it works). If you never take the time to assess how you are doing and how to make things better, every semester is going to feel stressful and overwhelming.

So, to start preparing for a new semester in college, start by taking stock of the previous semester, so you can create a better plan for the new semester.

Here are some questions to think about while reviewing the previous semester.

  • What worked well for me?
  • What didn’t work so well?
  • What did I struggle with the most and how did I deal with it? Was the solution effective?
  • Did I meet my goals (whether academic, family, financial, or health)?
  • What can I do differently next semester?

There are lots of questions you could ask during the review, but the ones above are a good starting point, so go ahead and use them. If possible, write down your answers to these questions so you can always go back and review them.


You can’t talk about preparing for a new semester without talking about goal setting (especially after a bad semester).

If you truly want to have a successful semester, you have to start with goal setting. Goals keep you focused during the semester. They also motivate you and help you avoid the mid-semester slump that’s so common with college students.

So to prepare for the new semester, start by thinking of some things you’d like to achieve during the semester. For example, improve your GPA, create a study schedule and stick to it, eat and sleep better, or manage your time better.

As a mom in school, there are lots of goals you can set, but I want you to focus on goals that will make the biggest difference in your life. High-impact goals are what you should aim for. However, no goal is too small for you to set.

If it’s important to you, then it’s worth going after. So, go ahead, make a list of five to seven important goals you’d like to achieve in your next semester of college.


For moms in college, every semester is different especially if you are also a working mom. To ensure you are adequately prepared for a new semester, make sure you identify any new or potential challenges you might face.

Here are some examples of new challenges a mom in school could face.

  • Needing child care because you are going back to on-campus classes after taking online classes the last one or two semesters.
  • You have a kid who is starting school.
  • Your husband is going to increase his work hours (leaving you with less support).
  • Having a baby during the semester.
  • You or your child might need frequent doctor’s appointments.
  • Quitting your job to focus on school (could potentially affect you financially).

As you can see, there are lots of potential challenges that could come up during a semester, that’s why you have to be prepared.

So, identify changes that are happening next semester that could pose a problem for you, so you can get in front of them and be prepared.

Taking the time to identify potential problems will save you from a lot of headaches. So, think about what is going on with you and your family, and how they might affect your schoolwork. Then, come up with a plan to address them before a new semester begins.


How many classes should you take in a semester? What classes should you take? I see these questions a lot from moms trying to get things right.

While no one can tell you how many classes to take or what classes to take, what I will say is that you should choose your classes with your other responsibilities in mind.

Unfortunately, some moms get too ambitious and enroll in more classes than they can handle. Signing up for too many classes without considering your other responsibilities can cause you a lot of hardship.

For example, if you are used to taking two classes per semester and you suddenly decide to take five classes, you might end up struggling after a few weeks (unless you made some changes in your life).

You can’t go from two to five classes without making some major changes. For example, stop working or reduce your hours, or get more help with the kids.

So, before you choose your classes or decide how many classes to take, make sure you consider your other responsibilities and how much time you can realistically devote to your academics. Some classes are more demanding than others and will require a lot more time.

Keep that in mind as you prepare and plan for a new semester.


For moms in college, flexibility is key, but it is also helpful to have a schedule or some kind of structure to your day or life. If you haven’t created a schedule, go ahead and create one. You can learn how to create one after reading this post. How to Create an Effective Student Mom Schedule.

If you already have a schedule, it’s time to review it to see if it is still fit for purpose. Do you need to create a new schedule or tweak your existing one to reflect any changes? Since your schedule isn’t set in stone, it can be tweaked to ensure it continues to serve you well.

After reviewing the previous semester, you may need to make some changes to your schedule, so go ahead and make them. For example, maybe you need to increase how much time you study or change when you study.

Your schedule is a great tool for incorporating changes and keeping track of how well you are doing. Before you start a new semester, always take some time to review your schedule and make changes if necessary.


You can’t begin a new semester without taking some time to organize yourself and your life. So, how do you organize for a new semester?

Here are some ideas for you.

  • Clean and organize your home. Organize closets, pantry, toys, etc.
  • Get rid of clutter
  • Organize your workspace or study space. Get rid of class notes and other papers you no longer need. Organize and file old notes or papers you plan to keep. You can use binders or storage boxes to store your old class notes.
  • Organize your finances. Plan out your finances for the semester to avoid any financial problems.
  • You can also plan and organize other areas of your life like your job, transportation, babysitter, or child care.

Depending on how much time you have in-between semesters, you should try to organize as many things or areas of your life as you possibly can.

Getting organized before the the start of a new semester is a great way to get a head start.

Related: How to be an Organized Mom in College

Related: How to Stay Ahead in College (For Struggling Moms)


When I was in college, I always tried to register for my classes as soon as they were open for registration.

Waiting until the last minute can cause you to miss out on a class, get a professor you don’t want, or class times that are unsuitable. So, it is always better to register as early as possible.

After you register for your classes, I highly recommend you review the classes before the start of the semester. Here are some things you should do while reviewing your classes.

  • Make a note of assignments, tests, or exams and their due dates. Write them down in your planner as soon as they become available (however, keep your eyes open for any changes).
  • Read your class syllabus before school starts.
  • If you are taking online classes and the classes are open, you can start reading ahead or taking some notes.
  • Make a note of all the textbooks and supplies that are required so you can purchase them ahead of time. Note, always wait for the syllabus before you start buying any textbooks or Ebooks. You don’t want to waste money buying books you don’t need (especially if they are non-refundable).
  • Pay attention to new concepts that look challenging so you can begin to work on them before class starts.

As you can see, there are quite a few things you can do while previewing your classes. But a note of caution. Don’t stress if your classes aren’t open just yet, or you can’t get a head start on your reading.

Some lecturers will give you a grace period to buy your textbooks and get all your supplies in order. So no need to fret if you don’t have all the information ahead of time.

If you are concerned you won’t have enough time to purchase all your textbooks and other supplies, you can sign up for an Amazon Prime Student Account to get one-day delivery.

For now, just preview your classes and make a note of all the important information you need.


At the start of this post, I said the first step to preparing for a new semester is to review the previous semester. If you haven’t done that, I suggest you go back and do it. It should only take you a few minutes.

After reviewing the previous semester, taking note of what worked and what didn’t, I want you to make a list of three to five things you plan to do differently to have a better semester.

For example, if you struggled a lot last semester, why did you struggle so much, and what can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

That’s how you need to approach things here. Think about some struggles you had, then come up with some ideas to fix them. Below are some examples for you.

Problem: Not having enough time to study because you waited for your kids to go to bed before studying.

Solution: Won’t wait until bedtime before studying. Schedule study times during the day. Get help with kids during the day so you can study.

Problem: Missed some deadlines and failed a class or didn’t do as well as you wanted.

Solution: Be more organized. Practice better time management. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of deadlines. Set reminders a day or two before due dates.

These are some of the things you can do differently to have a better semester. Now go ahead, make your own list, and put it where you can easily see it. Use it as a reminder throughout the semester.


The easiest way to ensure you don’t forget or overlook anything is to create a checklist of all the things you plan to do before you start a new semester. You can use a to-do list as your checklist.

Your new semester checklist can be as long or short as you want it to be. Write down everything you think is important or is required before you head back to school.

Don’t forget to cross out any item you complete on your checklist. This way, you can see at a glance what’s left for you to do.

Here is an example of a new semester checklist for moms.

  • Clean, declutter, and organize home.
  • Arrange babysitter or child care.
  • Make doctor’s appointments or other appointments.
  • Go grocery shopping.
  • Arrange transportation to clinicals or fieldwork.
  • Organize finances (ensure you have enough money to cover rent, child care, food, bills, school supplies, etc.)
  • Do something special with the kids.
  • Catch up with friends and family.
  • Shop for kids’ clothes and college essentials like notebooks, pens, binders, folders, etc.
  • Fill in your planner.
  • Prepare for the new baby.

Of course, there’s no limit to how many items you can have on your checklist. It all depends on your circumstances and other factors.

So, tailor your checklist to meet your needs and start working on completing the items on your list.


Avoid going back to college without getting some much needed rest.

I know this can be hard if you work or plan to attend summer or winter classes, however, you still have to find a way to get some rest in before you begin a new semester.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed or burn out if you don’t get enough rest, so you have to be careful and watch out for that.

Spend a few days just catching up on sleep or doing some things you enjoy. Allow yourself some time to decompress before you get back into it.

Clear your head and your mind. Enjoy time with your family and just forget about school for a while. Believe me, you will feel better after a period of rest. Take some time to refresh yourself. You will feel rejuvenated and rearing to go once the new semester arrives.

Final tips for the new semester

Preparing for a new semester is all about reviewing the previous semester and coming up with a plan to make the next semester better.

For many moms, going back to school can be pretty rough, but taking the time to prepare before each semester can alleviate some of the stress of being a college mom.

So, create your new semester checklist, get organized, make a list of some things you can improve, and set some goals. That’s how you have a better semester than the last one.

Are you a mom in college? What do you do to prepare for a new semester?

Related mom and student articles

How to Improve Student Mom Life This Year

Time Management for Moms in College: How to Balance it All

How to Deal With Mom Guilt While Studying

How to Prepare for a New Semester (For Moms in College)

how to prepare for a new semester

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