The first semester of graduate school can be daunting and preparing for it during a pandemic is something we’re all working through for the first time together. If you are struggling to get organized, motivated, and in the right mindset, these three tips will help you get ready for the many changes institutions have enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Step 1: Locate your graduate school’s resources.

One of the best things you can do for yourself, whether you have classes on campus or not, is to find out where you can access your grad school’s key resources. Institutions offer a variety of helpful programs such as career counseling, work studies, internship opportunities, tutoring, and more. Being proactive and seeking out resources before the semester begins will save you from having to do so later when you really need them. Also, being familiar with these services early on will help establish a routine that will allow you to remain organized and successful throughout your academic career.

Step 2: Establish a designated work area.

Regardless of whether your school has switched to remote learning or a hybrid of online and on-campus classes, you will probably be doing the majority of your work at home. Setting up an area in your living space that is organized and isolated from distractions is a great way to stay focused. Refrain from doing schoolwork or online classes from your bed or your couch — staying motivated is much harder in places your brain normally associates with rest or relaxation. Use a table or a desk and keep all of your school supplies there. By maintaining boundaries between your studies and recreation, you’ll create a healthier balance in all areas of your life.

Step 3: Contact your professors.

Online classes can be difficult when it comes to establishing a good impression with your professors. However, emailing your professors before the semester begins to introduce yourself and ask questions about supplies or readings shows them you have a genuine interest in their course. Professors are more inclined to help students who show that they care about what they are learning, so be sure to reach out. Your professors can also be very helpful when it comes to knowing which resources will be most relevant to you and which extracurricular opportunities you should get involved in.

Preparing for grad school.

Especially right now, knowing how to prepare for grad school can be stressful and confusing. The uncertainty of the times we are living in can make starting something new scarier than it would be under normal circumstances. Using the tips above will help to minimize some of these stresses and set you up for a successful first semester.