Are you ready to embark on your best academic year ever?

Getting ready for the new academic year is about more than buying new stationery and setting up your study space. It IS possible to take a few simple, intentional actions now to set the stage for an easier studying life AND epic grades.

The weeks leading up to the start of a new academic year can be filled with anticipation and uncertainty. Whether you're a first-time student or a seasoned scholar, it's normal to have a mix of emotions as you prepare for the challenges ahead.

In this episode, I’m here to help you use this time effectively so you can start your next classes feeling organised, motivated, focused and confident.

This post originated as a podcast episode which you can listen to below or search for episode 152 of the Chloe Made Me Study podcast. Or, if you’re more of a learn-by-reading student, carry on for the rough-and-ready blog version based on the podcast script.

Ways to listen:


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This week’s episode is all about the steps you can take now, in the coming weeks, to set yourself up for your best academic year yet. I’m going to talk through the 7 things I’d recommend for all students – new and existing, and I’m also going to share some things I DON’T recommend you do – as they’re a waste of time or they’re going to set you up for bad study habits.

Your best academic year yet

The few weeks or months before the academic year begins are an interesting time. You might be full of nervous energy, feeling raring to go but without a direction to run in. Or, you might be feeling apprehensive, worried that this year will be just as stressful or overwhelming as the last.

You might be feeling scared. Maybe this is your first year of study and you have no idea what to expect. Or, if you’re an existing student, you might be worried because this next module or class is a big step-up or this next year is really important for your final results.

All of your thoughts and feelings are valid and normal as you embark on a pretty hefty, but doable challenge. And, however you’re feeling, I assure you that taking action will make you feel better. I don’t know about you but I can get really stuck in thought and worry loops sometimes. Well the way to feel a different emotion and think different thoughts is to take action. So I’m going to share with you some small, simple steps that will help you feel more confident, and will prepare you in the smartest way for your best academic year yet.

First, I’m going to walk you through the 7 essential things I recommend all students invest their pre-studying time doing. Then we’ll finish up with 3 things I want you to stay away from – because they’re a waste of time and/or they’re actually going to set you up for bad study habits that will see you studying for hours and hours more than you potentially need to.

7 Essential Ways to Ensure This Is Your Best Academic Year Yet

1. Reflect on your previous study

Whenever your previous study was – a few months ago or a few years or decades ago, take some time to reflect on your experience. You could grab some paper and journal or make a note on your phone. Identify a few areas:

What would you like to keep? What aspects of your process or experience were good and you’d like to replicate this year? What would you like more of?

What would you like to put in the bin? What parts of your studying reality were stressful? Or which strategies did you use that were ineffective or time-consuming? What would you like less of? 

If this exercise brings up some skills gaps, take action to fill them by learning some new study strategies.

2. Who do you need to become?

It’s time for some visualisation. I want you to picture the version of you who has the studying reality you want. They’re achieving the grades you want and their studying life is your dream studying life – focused, calm, confident, motivated, balanced.

The only thing that’s holding you back from becoming this next version of you is your study habits. The thoughts, behaviours, actions you engage in that are potentially holding you back and keeping you stressed, distracted, procrastination, studying for way longer than necessary.

Build some new habits, achieve a new reality. So, reflect on the student you need to become and then identify some key habits that will help you step into this version.

In the Kickbutt Study Camp, the first workshop, the Proactive Pupil, you’ll learn how to build the habits and routines necessary to achieve your dream grades *and* create the study life you want – balanced, focused, productive, calm, confident. You’ll learn how to build habits that are realistic and powerful. We’ll take habit forming from a thing you try every new year to an activity that works.

3. Communicate with your family and friends

I have a whole podcast episode about the importance of setting boundaries and expectations which you can check out here.

If you’re an existing student, reflect on your past studying and what you need from your network this academic year. If you’re a brand new student, think about how your life is going to be different this year and what support you might need from others. 

Do you need the house to be quiet or just your study area?

Do you need to not be disturbed at all? Or do you like people to check in on you?

Do you need your friends to respect your study plans and not ask you to ditch them to see them?

Do you need your partner to get on board more?

The potentially tricky part? Communicating these. Commit to starting some of these conversations, ideally before you begin studying. But don’t worry if not because you are always entitled to set and reset boundaries in your life.

Keep this simple and keep it focused on you. So instead of saying, “You need to stop barging in while I’m studying” you could say, “I need focused study time without any interruptions. When I can study without interruptions, I can get my tasks done faster which means I’ll have more time to play/spend with you.” 

There’s lots more advice and script ideas in episode 8 so be sure to check this out if this is an area you want to focus on.

4. Buy *some* stationery

I am also a stationery lover. I believe in the power of a new notebook to change my life and I’m always on the hunt for the best pen. There’s an important side to this that I talk about with my students – that it’s vital to romanticise your studying. Your motivation won’t always be high. The energy you might feel at the start of a new academic year is going to ebb and flow. So you want to make your study space a fun place to be.

Whether you have a dedicated study room or area with a desk, or you’re sharing your space with others in your house, you can love up on your space. Either by buying a few little treats or by seeing what you can commandeer from the rest of your house – a lamp, a candle, some photos or fun prints.  

5. Become the expert of your course

This is probably THE most important step which is why it runs through the whole Kickbutt Study Camp and is the focus of one of the four workshops.

Successful students are strategic. They don’t try to study like everyone else. They don’t make a patchwork quilt of all the study advice they’ve ever heard and call that their studying strategy.

Unstrategic students study for way longer than they need to each week because they use inefficient study techniques for *their* particular situation and course. And they likely don’t achieve the grades they could because they’re not studying in an aligned way.

So your task before you start your next module or class is to become the expert of your course. Understand how it’s structured and how you are assessed. Identify the learning outcomes and criteria that you are going to be judged on. Read all your course information and distil from it the golden rules to do well in your course.

If you want support with this then be sure to check out the Kickbutt Study Camp as we dive into this throughout and particularly in The Strategic Student workshop.

6. Design your year

You’ve reflected on your past studying experiences, now it’s time for some future pacing. What are your commitments and goals for this upcoming year? If you want to achieve study-life balance then it’s important not to engage in silo thinking during your studies. Rather than seeing studying, work, family, health…etc. as separate activities and pillars, I’d invite you to understand the impact each will have on the others.

Before your next academic year begins, think about what this next year, or at least the next few months, is going to look like. What’s going on at work? Do you have any specific career goals you’re working towards? Any stressors that are likely?

What about with friends and family? What’s going on that may impact you? Are there goals you want to achieve in these areas or things you’d like to change?

Then, any other areas of your life that are important to you right now? Hobbies, health, fitness.

The idea is to understand the different moving parts and aspirations that you have for the year so that you can plan and prioritise accordingly. For me, over the last few years my mental health has been a prominent commitment. I have built lots of habits and techniques to manage my mental health but these don’t work if I massively overcommit in other areas of my life. It’s helpful to have an understanding that my mental health is a key priority for me because it can stop me from overcommitting with work, or filling up my weekends with too many social events.

Have a think about your myriad commitments and responsibilities this year so that you’ll be able to recognise when things may be straying out of alignment.

7. Design your study schedule

Whether you’re a new student or an existing one coming back after the summer off, things are gonna change, right? You’re going to need to create space in your schedule for studying.

One of the biggest mistakes I see is students not fully committing to their education. They try to fit studying in when they can and they kinda just wing it. They’ll try to study for a few hours around work and then realise this isn’t enough to do well in their upcoming assignments so they’ll then have to get serious and stay up late to get stuff done.

The drumbeat of your studying will fluctuate – some weeks will be easier and some weeks will be harder. But, you can make your life a whole lot easier by not leaving your studying to chance.

Complete step 5 – becoming the expert of your course – and work out roughly how much you’ll need to study each week. Then make a rough plan of how on earth you’re going to fit that into your life.

What activities need to go or be decreased to make room for your studying?

What changes to your day-to-day schedule might you have to make?

How are you going to reduce the friction to make your study sessions happen?

Acceptance that studying IS going to be a big part of your life is key to making this your best academic year yet.

Don’t do these 3 things if you want to have your best academic year yet

Finally, let’s quickly look at a few things I really don’t recommend doing.

1. Decide on study strategies based purely on what you see others doing

I mentioned this above in step 5 but it’s important. There is A LOT of studying advice online – on blogs, youtube videos, Instagram, even your university’s website.

Do not implement a single study strategy you hear from someone else until you’ve answered two questions.

1. Will this strategy be suitable for my course and subject?

2. Will this strategy work for me? My learning style, way of working and learning process?

If you need help answering these questions, definitely check out my Kickbutt Study Camp as the whole aim of the programme is for you to walk away with a personalised studying plan and blueprint for how you’re going to achieve the grades you want in the way you want.

2. Get ahead with the reading without a solid plan

I’ve seen a lot of students on Instagram post that they’re getting ahead with the reading before their course starts. Or they’re doing wider reading to introduce themselves to the course material. Or they’ve found some documentaries or podcasts that will help them get ready.

I would strongly advise against doing this UNLESS getting ahead with the reading is in alignment with the solid, smart, strategic studying plan you’ve created.

Reading, reading, reading does not get you a good degree. What gets you a good degree is being able to demonstrate your learning of the key knowledge and skills set out by your course through your assessments – and strategic reading is going to help you do that. Not reading everything you can get your hands on willy nilly.

Understand your course requirements and then design your reading strategy to fit.

3. Spend your limited time on surface-level activities

Now you know lots of smart ways to spend your ‘getting ready’ for the academic year time, it’s time to focus your attention there. You could spend even more time making your desk pretty, stationery shopping and reading, reading, reading – or you could spend a bit of time here and then commit to taking action to really set yourself up for your best academic year. Getting strategic, learning how to learn effectively, making a study plan, reflecting on the studying life and grades you want.

So there we have it, lots of useful tips that you can implement in the coming weeks to transform your studying and make this your best academic year yet.

And if you want to take this to the next level to ensure you have your best academic year yet…

…definitely check out my upcoming Kickbutt Study Camp.

Whether you’re a brand new student, eager (but terrified) to start your course, or you’re an ol’ timer gearing up for your next module which you want to be smoother and more successful. 

In the Kickbutt Study Camp, you’ll learn core, best-practice study strategies in four key areas, to allow you to study smarter, not harder, spend less time studying each week AND achieve higher grades.

The four workshops will be held on Zoom on four weekday evenings in September – the 12th, 14th, 19th and 20th. If you can’t make them live, don’t worry. They’re all recorded and you’ll have lifetime access to the replays so you can catch up and then dive back in throughout your later studies. And for two weeks over the span of the live workshops, I’ll be running a private community where you can ask me any and all your questions about the workshop topics, so you can create a personalised action plan to support you in your upcoming studies.

The four topics of the workshops are:

The Proactive Pupil > where you’ll learn how to build the habits that are going to help you study with focus, motivation and productivity so you can make fast progress towards your academic goals.

The Confident Learner > where you’ll learn how to overcome imposter syndrome and doubt and you'll create simple, powerful, mindset-boosting techniques that will make you feel capable and confident in your studies.

The Strategic Student > where you’ll learn the secrets your university is not teaching you – how you can achieve epic grades while studying less each week. This one’s all about studying smarter, not harder.

The Efficient Note Taker > where you’ll learn the essential elements of note taking and then you’ll design *your* best note taking strategy that will help you prepare for assignments, and high grades, in the best way.

Enrolment for the Kickbutt Study Camp opens tomorrow, Tuesday 29th August, and there is a special early-bird offer for those who join by Friday 1st September. Check it out here.


How to Actually START Your Essay

Workbook + video training to take you from procrastination and overwhelm to understanding your question and mapping out your ideas with momentum. Easier, faster essay writing (and higher grades) await.

Start Your Essay

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