Surviving the first semester of the year has been all about keeping track of time in your busy schedule, from moving into res, orientation, lectures, Rag and all the socialising – not to mention navigating the varsity social scene.

Even with the best intentions, certain areas of student life may be neglected, if you don’t have a plan in place to make them happen.

Respublica, South Africa’s leading provider of student accommodation, offers the following four tips to make the most of the second semester.

Prioritise your priorities

Poet Maya Angelou was on the money when she said: ’If you know better you do better.’ The biggest favour you can do for yourself is to know what is takes top priority and what doesn’t.

Take the opportunity of being midway through the year, and review the time already passed, and plan ahead by drawing up a personal SWOT analysis. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities you have and threats that could jeopardise your success. 

The first semester was the litmus test, and the personal SWOT is a post mortem – now that you have all your results back, it is time for you to draw yourself a tailor-made plan to balance your studies and personal life.

Balance your studies, sleep and socialising 

Lack of sleep reduces your attention span, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. While there will be occasions when you will need to pull an all-nighter, make that the exception rather than the rule, and aim for at least six to eight hours of sleep each night.

When you’re planning your studying time, portion your content into blocks that will take no longer than 90 minutes to work through and then take a 10-minute break. where you do some kind of exercise. If you need to work in shorter spells, allow for that in your planning.

It really is true that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Give yourself a break, get a hobby outside your studies, make new friends and partake in student activities at res and on campus – enjoy being a student, these are the best years of your life.

Break down your budget

There’s no time like the present to learn how to budget effectively, as this is a skill that you will use for the rest of your life!

Start by listing all your essential expenses, plan your purchases during the month to make sure that you’ve enough money to survive to the last day. Factor in whether or not your res includes free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities and includes water and electricity charges so that you’re not caught off guard by unforeseen expenses.

Of course, make sure you include spending money and entertainment in your budget, otherwise you’ll take from your grocery stash to go to a concert – and you’ll go hungry at the end of the month.

Location isn’t everything, but your living environment is

Your environment plays a critical role in your studies as you need quiet spaces to study, rest, and keep your focus on your academics, rather than on irritations such as maintaining a clean environment, paying for unforeseen expenses and fighting with landlords about maintenance issues and security concerns.

A purpose-built residence like those offered by Respublica includes study areas, cleaning services and security.

If you are dissatisfied with your environment because your landlord has not kept to their commitment of providing an environment that meets your needs, you can cancel your lease when you have found alternative accommodation that meets your needs.

Make use of your residence tutor and mentors

Well run residences often have good tutoring and mentoring networks and structures that assist students with learning and study advice on subjects. Carried out both as one-on-one or as group study sessions, these provide an excellent opportunity to deal with specific study problems while sharing ideas and solutions with your local brains trust.

Making sure that you’ve got these bases covered in your plan for the second semester will help you get great results at the end of the year… and ensure that you’ll be perfectly prepared for next year!