Four Ways to Rock Your Semester

Sarah Ball Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning 0 Comments

It’s 2018, a new year and a new semester. It’s time to put our resolutions to the test (and maybe not completely fail this year). But with the new semester upon us (or already starting) I wanted to give you FOUR WAYS to rock your spring semester. Let’s be PRODUCTIVE. 

Your Planning Needs

Your life is busy, you have assignments due for school or work, projects, and lists upon lists of things to do. Do yourself a favor and GET A PLANNER. Planners are a great way to schedule assignments, plan out projects, write “To Do” lists for each day, and even plan for vacations and school breaks.

*Helpful Tip: Use different colored markers/pens/pencils for different classes/assignments/projects to create clarity within your planner.

Planners have come a long way since we were in middle school and your teacher would give you a free planner you would be required to fill out.

There is a great selection of all different types of planners at Target.

If you’re looking for a planner to help with productivity AND help you set future goals, I suggest the Heavenly Planner by Horacio Printing (Bonus: 10% of what you pay goes to support A21 and rescue women from human-trafficking).

There are also some great apps out there if you’re not a paper person. (Just search “planner” in the app store and you can pick one that suits you and your planning needs).

This planner thing only works if you are intentional in using it. Schedule a time during the week (preferably in the beginning, like on a Sunday evening) and schedule out your whole week and what it will look like. Create time blocks for how long you plan on spending time working on an assignment or project.  This will help you know how full each day of the week is going to be, prioritize the important things, and increase your productivity. And with it all written down you’ll never lose it or forget!

Now you won’t have any excuse to hand in an assignment late to your professor.

Check it Off

I don’t know about you, but I love crossing things off of a list. There is so much satisfaction in crossing off a task that you have completed. This brings me to my next tip: create a to-do list.

I mentioned this about with talking about planners; however, I don’t think a to do list in your planner is enough to keep you on track of assignment and project progress. I highly suggest finding a task management system that works for you.

Some people prefer paper, and if you are going to look at your planner every single day and have it consistently in front of you, go for it. That’s the perfect place for your to-do list. If you’re not that kind of person, here are some suggestions.

Two task management systems that I personally love are Asana and Wunderlist. Both of these systems are online, and are able to be accessed by your computer, smartphone, or tablet. This makes it super simple to access your to-do list, anytime or anywhere. The other plus of having an online task management system is that you can organize them by project, assignment, and due date and set up reminders to finish your tasks before the due date. So even if you forget to check your list, you’ll get reminders sent to you through email and the app.

All Those Notes

One thing I remember about college is ALL THE NOTES. I remember trying to manually organize them in different folders on my computers which ultimately took up time that I could have been working on a paper to write, or an assignment I had due. It wasn’t until my senior year at Elim where I discovered apps like Evernote and OneNote.

Evernote can be accessed by both Mac and PC, where OneNote is more compatible with PC, but I was able to download it to my Mac through the App Store. I really like how these apps are organized because you can have different notebooks for different classes, and organize your notes by topic, unit, or basically whatever works for you, but it is all in one place – no more fishing around on my computer for documents!

I highly suggest looking into this if you are a computer note-taker. And if you’re a handwritten note-taker, more power to you (I just can’t write as fast as people talk).

Let’s Talk About Emails

Personally, I feel that your inbox is very important for you to feel like you have your life together. When I have more than 20 emails, I feel as though my life is spinning out of control until I delete all of them.

I know some emails are important to keep, BUT DO NOT KEEP THEM IN YOUR INBOX. I used to keep event reminders in my inbox thinking I could look back and see all the information if needed. But you know what? I never did. I let it just sit in my inbox until 2 months went by and then I finally deleted it because the event had already passed.

What to do with Emails: 
  • Emails about an event, an important date coming up, etc: PUT IT IN YOUR PLANNER. That’s what your planner is there for.
  • Emails about assignment details, or anything pertaining to a class: PUT IT IN YOUR PLANNER. It will help you remember when you’re working on that particular assignment. 
  • Emails with personal, important information you need to keep: DOWNLOAD IT. If you save it to your computer, you’ll never lose it. 
  • Emails about questions: RESPOND TO IT ASAP.

This will clear out the clutter of your inbox and make you feel like a more productive person (because you, my friend, are very productive).


Let’s be productive together this semester!

About the Author

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball graduated from Elim Bible Institute and College with a degree in Theological and Biblical Studies with a focus in ministry. It was at Elim where Sarah knew she had a passion for ministry and college students through the exposure of BASIC. In June of 2017 Sarah joined on staff with BASIC along with her husband, Elijah.

Making the Most of Your Summer

Making The Most Of Your Summer

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning 0 Comments

School is out, summer is in and life is good. The first few weeks of summer break always seem the sweetest. Papers, finals, and grades are all just distant memories and before us we have seemingly endless days of relaxing, reading, exploring, and enjoying our summers. As a college student, thinking about being back on campus is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Today I want to give you some practical ways you can make the most of your summer.


College campuses are amazing places to be immersed in community. When you conveniently live just minutes from all your friends, it is easy to feel connected. Many students love their BASIC groups because of the community it creates. When summer begins, many people go back to their hometowns and friends are no longer a text away. Be intentional about making connections.

Often, we wait for others to reach out to us, but I encourage you this summer to be the person who takes initiative. Connect with both the people in your current context and your friends from school. If you aren’t already connected to a church back home, make the effort to find one and get involved. Send a text, write a letter, make a call and let the people in your life know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. This ensures you are being built up at home and deepening connections for your return in the Fall.

Reach out to Newbies

College ministry is a revolving door. As we say goodbye to one class of Seniors, a whole new batch of Freshman make their way onto the scene. More so than other ministries, we must be on our game when it comes to reaching out and welcoming incoming students. During the summer, many colleges give tours for accepted students that often include group fairs. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with Freshman before they arrive!

If you haven’t already, check your school’s summer calendar and see if your BASIC group can get some local students to represent the club on those days. Make sure to have some way to collect their contact info and reach out to them the first week of classes! This simple strategy will make a big difference when school starts.

Do your homework

Many BASIC chapters have already made plans for their upcoming Fall semester (PROPS). This is an amazing way to be prepared and ready to hit the ground running when the semester begins. If you haven’t, do not fret! I challenge all groups to do their summer homework.

What is working on college campuses? What ways can you improve your evangelism approach? How can you reach a bigger percentage of students on your campus? During the summer you have time you wouldn’t necessarily have once school begins. Use it wisely to learn new methods, read up on best practices, and catch up on powerful teachings and podcasts. Knowledge is power and it is always a good idea to keep learning, even during the summer.

Set goals

There is a quote that says, “If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?” It is easy for us to get busy once school starts and revert back to doing things the way we have always done them. Setting big picture goals and making strides to achieve them are what launch ministries, groups, and people into the next level.

Has your leadership team set goals for this upcoming year? What are you dreaming about for your life? Your BASIC chapter? I encourage you to sit down this summer and dream about what you would like to accomplish this upcoming year and how you plan to do it. When we are intentional about setting goals, we are already one step closer to actually seeing them happen. 


With all the papers, tests, and projects during the year, it can feel like rest is an old forgotten friend. With the pressure to juggle your school work, family stuff, personal relationships, and Jesus time, there seems to be little to no room for actual rest. I encourage you to intentionally take time to rest this summer.

Rest doesn’t always mean taking naps (though praise Jesus for a good nap! Can I get an Amen?). Be intentional about doing things that bring rest to your soul. Is it kayaking? Going on hikes with friends? Sipping coffee and reading at a local coffee shop? Soak up this opportunity to rest and recharge.

Spend time with Jesus

Summer may be a break from school, but it shouldn’t be a break from spending time with Jesus. Just like any relationship, it will take work. Summer schedules can fill up and get really busy, really fast. Do yourself a favor and make spending time with Jesus a priority. Whether it’s spending some time in the morning reading and doing devotionals before work or going on a walk after dinner to chat with Him, you will never regret the moments you intentionally pursue Him.

If you only do one thing this summer I pray that this is it. Jesus will speak truth to your heart, calm fear, and release dreams and vision over you. Deeper intimacy with God is the best way to prepare for anything the future might hold for you! Let Jesus encourage your heart this summer and take you to new places in Him!

I pray that these six things excite you and motivate you to make the most of your summer! Enjoy the season!

About the Author

Sam DiStefano


Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.