Winter Break came and went SO fast. Sleeping in, eating homecooked meals, family time, Netflix binging and a whole month of f.r.e.e.d.o.m. was really nice while it lasted. But now college students everywhere have made their way back to college campuses. And whether we're ready or not, a new semester is here.

Whether you're a freshman in your second semester or a senior in your last semester, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. It can also be difficult to go into it with a positive attitude because let's face it, sitting through boring powerpoint lectures and studying endlessly aren't really anyone's idea of a good time. But I heard a quote while on my break and it has really stuck with me... It isn't about where you have been, it's about where you're going with that single step.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

1. Last semester does NOT define you

Maybe it was a hard semester. Maybe your GPA took a hit (or a knockdown). Maybe you skipped class a lot and didn't apply yourself like you know you could have. Maybe you were homesick the entire 5 months. Maybe you went through depression or something else difficult happened. Regardless, it's over now. It's a new year. A new semester. You can bring that GPA up. You'll still miss home but it gets easier. Apply yourself, get to that 8 am. Make an effort to overcome whatever lies in the past this semester.

2. If you hate your major, change it

There seems to be this on-going bad name for major changes. My perspective says... If you don't love it now, you 9 times out of 10 won't love doing it for the rest of your life. This is the time to figure out what you love doing, not what society tells you that you should love. It's not all about the annual salary, either. Find your passion this semester and go for it regardless of what everyone else says/thinks.

3. Sometimes your best is not an "A" and that is OKAY

This perspective has taken me a long time to accept and I may possibly still be learning it. But I believe as long as you work hard and do your best, that's all that matters. Sometimes your best won't be an "A" and that IS okay! College is hard. Professors are extremely tough. So this semester instead of shooting for "A's", shoot for your best.

4. Make new AND realistic goals

Sometimes we make goals like, "get an A-plus in Chemistry" or "go to the gym every single morning." And while those are great things to shoot towards and they're certainly possible, are they truly realistic for you? Are you going to really achieve them or are you going to end up feeling like a failure because you didn't? Set high goals this semester, but make them realistic and achievable for you!

5. Stay FAR from toxic people

The people you hang around can be the difference between a good grade a bad grade. A good time or a bad time. A good future and a bad one. A good college experience or a bad one. Be careful who you make relationships with this semester and get rid of anyone from last semester who's holding you back.

6. Sometimes we need extra help and that is OKAY

Go to that Wednesday night study group. See a tutor. Ask your professor for tips. Use campus resources. Talk to someone about what's going on. Needing help doesn't make you weak. It simply makes you human. We all need extra help at one point or another so don't be afraid to ask for it this semester.

7. Do NOT spend every waking moment studying

"Study 2-3 hours for each hour you are in class." Let's be real for a second, we are in class for approximately 10-15 hours a week. Which would mean we should study 20-30 hours a week. Which is a lot and actually isn't even necessary to do well. So breathe. Study for 2-3 hours a day instead of 5-6. Then take time to be PRESENT where you are. This time of our lives is going to go by in the blink of an eye, so remember to take the time to enjoy it.

It's a new year. A new semester. Work hard. Be present. Make memories. Make every moment count. You've got this.