Back-to-school Tips for Your Best Term Yet

These tips, tricks and types of services Drexel University provides can help students start out the new year on the right foot.
Sign reading Welcome to the Academic Resource Center on the Korman Center building
Many academic services are housed in the Academic Resource Center in the Korman Center. 

Welcome back to school! Whether you’re coming back from co-op, starting your first-ever year at Drexel University or you just relaxed as hard as possible between the end of summer quarter and now, it’s understandable if getting back into the groove is a bit of a grind.

Luckily, you’re not alone. Your fellow students are in the same boat and Drexel gets it, too. There are plenty of resources for students to make the most of their academic year, from the Center for Learning and Academic Success Services (CLASS) to the Academic Resource Center (ARC). CLASS and the ARC offer tutoring, coaching, workshops and more to support students.

“We can shy away from asking for help sometimes, but this is a big institution with a lot of opportunities for support, and seeking and using those offices that are here to support you is one of those ‘work smarter, not harder’ moments,” CLASS Director Rebecca Signore said. “Take the time to pick your head up, step away from the pressure and say, ‘I can actually make this feel more comfortable.’ A good support system is an important part of being a successful student, and we have plenty of pieces for a support system.”

Take these tips with you as you start your new school year and work smarter from the start.

Ease into your schedule

After you’ve moved in on campus, you’re at school but you’re not yet in school, so it’s a good time to ease back into your routine and figure out when your schedule will take you where this term. You should think about not only the big time blocks on your schedule, like classes or a work shift, but also the smaller pieces of your routine that make up your day, like getting coffee or hitting the gym.

“Routine does not mean heavily scheduled every minute of the day, it just means that you have a plan that you follow, and you do these things consistently,” Signore said. “It helps us to feel more in control of our schedules, and you’re less likely to miss deadlines. Routines can change and they’re supposed to be somewhat flexible.”

The time on campus before classes is a great time for incoming first-year students to start thinking about how long it will actually take to get from their new residence hall to their first class of the day at MacAlister Hall. Even for returning students, it’s a good time to start thinking about navigating campus, especially if you’ve been away on co-op and now have to shift from a workday routine to an academic routine.

And feel free to make changes to your routine — as Signore said, it’s not a deadlocked, down-to-the-minute schedule. Maybe you realize you have to get up earlier to fit in everything you want to do in a day, or you want to block off more time for studying on a particular day.

“No matter what, you’ll have an easier transition if you’re making some small changes before the start of the school year,” Signore said. “Maybe it shifts some more in the fall, but at least you started to model that routine early.”

Study setup on a desk with a laptop and notebook
Find the study setup that works for you, whether that's alone or with other people. Photo courtesy of Callum Hilton/Pexels.

Find a good study spot

There’s a good study spot out there for you — and it definitely shouldn’t be your bed. Maybe it’s the library, maybe it’s your kitchen table, maybe it’s your study nook at your desk at home, or maybe it’s CLASS's Study Hours program.

“We started this last fall when we realized one of the things a post-pandemic student is looking for is structured study time,” Signore said. “It’s essentially a drop-in two-hour block four days a week where students can come in and just commit to completing some work.”

Signore said the program will be ramping up this year after a strong response from students during the program’s first year. There will be a professional academic coach available for quick consultations with students as they study, and Signore said the environment is conducive to students having some accountability to get things done.

“It allows students to work alongside other individuals who are working productively, and you can come in for the whole two hours or just pop in for 30 minutes,” Signore said. “It’s here to be used by students as they need it.”

Study Hours will be held 1–3 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the Korman Multipurpose Room (Room 201) on the second floor of the Korman Center.

Find the tools that will work for you

The best academic tools will look different for different students, Signore said. A paper planner might work for some, while a digital planner or organizer like Notion or Goodnotes might work for others.

As for the best tools for classes, tutoring in a specific subject might be the way to go for some, but if you’re wanting to learn the best tools to help you study better, learn smarter and work more easily, academic coaching might be for you. A coach works with you to figure out how you can best learn overall, rather than spot checking certain subjects like a tutor would do — they’ll help your study habits rather than walk you through your latest physics lesson.

“We saw almost a 65 percent growth in students seeking academic coaching last year over the year before,” Signore said. “It was a lot of students wanting to check in and talk about how they learn and take stock of their strategies, study skills and note taking skills and work on applying some new things to help with their academic success.”

There are both peer academic coaches and professional coaches, and you can set up an appointment with either service by emailing

“Sometimes we haven’t made the space to reflect on things like how we learn, and it’s not often something a student is explicitly taught, so when a student has the opportunity to think specifically about how they process information and strategies, it can bolster their confidence in their academic work,” Signore said.

Make goals for the year

When you’re envisioning your upcoming academic year, think ambitious yet achievable.

“It should be something you have to work for, but let’s not overcomplicate it,” Signore said. “What is truly accomplishable in the time you have?”

When setting goals for your year — maybe it’s coming to every class, setting up regular appointments with your academic adviser, finding a peer mentor or something else — Signore encourages students to make SMART goals. Yes, you should be smart about your goals, but in this case, SMART means “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound”.

“You should be pushing yourself, but you also have to recognize when you set goals that there are support systems that will help you to accomplish that,” Signore said. “Goals oftentimes require you as a student to ask for help and utilize help that’s available. You don’t need to go it alone.”