Did you just graduate from high school and are now ready to become a freshman again? Are you a military student looking to pursue higher education for the first time? Or, are you a mother of 3 who attended a few semesters of college many moons ago and are now wanting to earn a degree to advance your career?

Regardless of what your story entails, there are several items on your to-do list that you should accomplish as soon as possible if you're new or returning to college before the new semester kicks off. Here are just a few of the important items:

Register for classes.

Perhaps the most important task for you to do is to register for all classes you intend to take in the new semester if you haven't already done so. Classes within certain degree programs can fill up quickly, so it's imperative to reserve your spot so that you don't have to wait until the spring semester to enroll in classes you're anxious to pass.

Registering for classes sooner than later can also help you plan your schedule for the next few months. If you currently have a job or plan to find some part-time work or an internship, you should be aware of what is going to be on the docket in terms of your academic schedule.

Round up your textbooks.

Each college class in which you're enrolled will likely require at least one textbook. Some may require as many as 4 or 5 books, supplemental guides, and other materials in order to be successful in the course.

These days, there are several options on where to purchase textbooks. You could check out the on-campus bookstore at your school. Perhaps there are off-campus stores that also carry course materials. Buying and renting textbooks online have become quite popular as well, and this includes e-books so that you aren't lugging around a backpack full of heavy books. Consider used books if the editions you need are available for a cheaper price.

Don't wait until classes start to get your textbooks if you can find out which ones you'll need ahead of time.

Get the school supplies you need.

Some possible school supplies that could come in handy this coming semester include:

  • A backpack or handbag
  • Folders
  • Binders
  • Notebooks
  • Scissors
  • Stapler with staples
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • A calculator
  • Computer software, i.e. Microsoft Office
  • Computer accessories, i.e. a printer with ink cartridges

In today's digital world, more and more assignments in college courses must be completed and submitted electronically, so you may not need some of the more traditional supplies. But it can't hurt to have at least a few of these items on hand before you find out which ones you'll really need.

It's also worth noting that some states hold sales tax holidays on school supplies prior to the start of the new term. Check out the full list of states recognizing these tax-free periods here.

Familiarize yourself with your new school.

Whether you're an online student or taking classes at a campus, it's always important to be familiar with the most relevant aspects of your new school. You should know the basics by now, but learn about what kinds of academic support is available to you and any other student services. If you have technical issues with an online course, post the support phone number on your desk so it's handy. Find out where you can use your student ID for discounts.

You can do most of this research simply by exploring your school's website. You may also want to check out the campus you'll be attending.

Connect with fellow classmates and your instructors.

Thanks to all sorts of communication tools, it's easier than ever to connect with fellow classmates and professors to keep in touch throughout the semester. Building a support system is a key element to succeeding in any academic program.

Consider these strategies to bolster your connections:

  • Talk to fellow students before and after class if you're in a classroom setting.
  • Participate in all discussions in online classes.
  • E-mail or private message fellow students about how they're handling things.
  • Have a few phone numbers handy from students willing to share them with you to call or text in a pinch.
  • Make connections on social media.

As for your instructors, read their bios and have some understanding of their background before the term begins. As with fellow students, get as much contact info for your instructors as reasonably possible so you can reach out to them whenever you need a hand with something.

Make sure you're technologically ready.

Do you have a working laptop that should hold up for some time to come? Do you have the latest updates installed to maximize your productivity when completing your assignments and study obligations?

Having workable technology on hand is critical today. It's particularly important for students taking online classes. You just can't get by with a computer running Windows XP or software that's been outdated for many years. Flash, video, and other multimedia content are common in distance learning. So, in order to fully access and work with the course materials provided to students, you should be fully updated and ready to roll with the technology you have.

Nail down your housing arrangements.

Unless you're taking classes in an online program or already live near campus, you should finalize your housing arrangements. Are you going to live on campus? Will you find an apartment or house for rent nearby? There can be some uncertainty when it comes to housing, especially in areas where lots of college students are competing for places to live.

Don't wind up with a long commute to school and battling for a semi-decent parking spot. Start planning for this now.

Tell Us How You're Planning

How are you planning for the new semester? Tell us in a comment below.