2015 has arrived, and winter break is rapidly coming to an end. With the next semester looming, there’s plenty of logistical/practical tasks to handle that will make the next academic chapter that much easier.

Take Actions to Improve Next Semester

Take a little time to consider this past semester. What went well? What didn’t? Could your experience be improved by finding a tutor or signing on for other types of academic support? Are there roommate conversations that need to happen to improve your living situation? Are there clubs or organizations you would like to join? Commitments you no longer feel fit your aspirations and available time?

A new semester is a great time to look critically at how things have been going, and to take steps to put new structures and plans into place. Whatever this looks like for you, make sure you handle whatever needs handling so that you’re well positioned to attack the opportunities that a new semester holds in store.

Talk Finances and Other Details with Your Folks

This falls in the category of “not fun but still important” things to do. Depending on where you’re at in school and other factors, you might need to talk FAFSA, taxes, allowance, loans, health insurance, and all kinds of other details. This is often hard stuff to deal with as the grown-up child of parents during winter break.

One of the best ways to handle these complicated family dynamics is to show that you are willing and able to take the initiative on these difficult conversations. Before you head back to school, make sure you’ve got the information gathered and bureaucratic forms completed to make sure your 2015 gets off to a smooth start.

Organize Last Semester’s Files

It’s worth keeping your coursework, assignments, and notes—particularly if you’ll be taking other classes in that same discipline or you did work you’re proud of for these past classes. Organize files, re-name documents, correctly sort all those downloads and anything titled “reading for tomorrow” (or similar).

Getting your documents into easily searchable order will set you up for ease of access in the future, and will also clear out your computer clutter before the chaos of next semester sets in.

Write Thank-Yous

Perhaps this advice seems overly old-fashioned or formal. But really, truly, write some thank-you letters. Honor those who have offered help or gifts, and express your true gratitude. This could include both those who gave you gifts during the holidays, and also those who have made a difference over your past year. Send letters, write emails, make a couple of quick phone calls.

College students need all the help and support they can get. It’s a good idea to acknowledge those who have helped you to this point, both because it’s the right thing to do and because it lets people know you’d appreciate the same in the future.

Check on Your Academic Progress

A new year and new semester makes this a great time to check in on how you’re progressing toward graduation. This might mean reviewing your degree audit (your university’s way of tracking your credits fulfilled vs. requirements) or looking over departmental requirements.

It might also mean scheduling a meeting with your advisor or with a university academic office. Take a little time to make sure you know what you need to do in the remainder of the academic year to move you toward graduation.

Buy More Socks and Underwear (Or whatever little items will make your life easier)

Laundry, for me, is the task that puts my schedule over the edge from “busy” to “I can’t even handle it.” $20 of additional socks and underwear make a world of difference to my capacity for both work and fun in my day-to-day life. Whatever silly little task plagues your weekly to-do list, take a moment to ponder if there are easy fixes you could acquire before the next semester begins.

Finally, take a deep breath before you launch into this next year. Make some resolutions, dream up some spring break adventures, and get in the mindset for a new set of classes, activities, and possibilities. Then buckle down and get to work! There’s a lot ahead in the New Year. Best of luck!