08/08/2013 10:31 am ET Updated Oct 08, 2013

Semester Preparation

The days are ticking right on by and for those of us who are in school and those with children in school, we all know what this means: It is back-to-school time. For parents this brings about thoughts of report cards, scholarships, back-to-school shopping and hope that your child can take on those classroom bullies. Your desire is that your children can take all that knowledge you have worked so hard to impart to them and use it to succeed and to survive.

For us that still walk the halls of an educational institution as students, we look at this time of year with a mixture of stressful anticipation and excitement. Personally, I am currently stressing because I'm trying to get all of my summer plans accomplished, because I know that once classes begin I will not have the time to do these things. I know there will be many sleepless nights and early mornings (I have 8 a.m. classes most mornings this semester), there will be papers, articles and assignments, songs to sing, monologues to memorize, and blogs to write.

At the same time that I am dreading my crammed schedule, I am excited because all those things that fill my schedule are the things I breathe for. I love the theatre and it always feels amazing to be back in that world once the semester starts again. I become Critley the actress again and not just the college kid on summer break.

But for the most part we all have that first-day-of-school jitters. We want to make friends with our classmates, get along with our teachers, and do well with the work. To take the edge off in the couple of weeks before school starts, I suggest preparing.

What You Need: Take inventory of what you need, whether it is pens, pencils, paper, or folders. Check around in your local store flyers, usually stores are competing on prices for these items during back to school week. Once you have bought what you need, make sure to put your new things where you can find them. No one wants to be franticly looking for something the night before class.

Get Organized: Okay, people, this is the time to organize your room (or dorm), your desk, even your bathroom, because once those classes start you will not have the time to get all this done. This comes back to what I said earlier about not wanting to be searching for something you need the night before class. If everything already has a place it will be easier to find. I have been my own victim desperately looking for my red flash drive at 3 a.m. when it contained information I needed for an 8 a.m. class. Keep things neat, it just saves you time and stress later.

Buy Your Books Early: I know rushing out and spending several hundred dollars on textbooks is the last thing you want to be doing on the last week of summer break, but here is my reasoning: If you buy your textbooks early you will have a better opportunity to buy used, thus saving yourself a ton of money. Some bookstores will even order used books for you if they do not have them. My other reason you will probably hate even more: It allows you to begin reading early. By at least skimming your textbooks before class starts you will have a jump start on the material and will actually look like you know something in class. If you are really ambitious you could read a full chapter; this means that later when a chapter is assigned you will just be reviewing the material. This will be less stressful for you who will probably have a million assignments by that time.

Park Legal: Do not forget to purchase/renew your parking pass. This is a hard fast rule, no matter whether you are a commuter or live on campus. I've seen way too many cars towed away on campus to ever take that risk. Many colleges even put holds on your student account which prevents you from graduating if you have outstanding parking tickets.

Define Your Look: This may be the most girly, shallow thing I've said, but let us be honest, clothes can give you confidence. If you want to strut your stuff down those campus halls take a quick run through your closet. Separate your clothing into two different categories: the things you want to wear to school, and the things you can wear at home to garden, clean house, or work out. These two types of clothes should never mingle. Pick out the clothes that make you feel the most confident and those will become your clothing standards.

I hope these small pieces of advice will make your first week, if not your whole semester easier. Give them a try and if you wish send me a note or leave a comment about how these suggestions are working. Also feel free to list a few ideas of your own.

Personal Update

This semester I am joining Eastern Kentucky University's Concert Choir. In recent years I have only concentrated on my acting career and school so it will be nice to be involved in music and taking voice lessons again. This will also be the first time I have been introduced to singing choral music!

My other big announcement is that I have been selected to be an intern at for their "Survivor" edition. I'm very excited about this and will continue to keep you updated.