Now that the first week of school is behind us, it’s really time to get down to business. First off, awesome job on getting through a stressful week of finding classes, ordering and purchasing books, figuring out when and if you have time to eat or nap, and trying to navigate through a sea of students! Since everything is settling down and we will all fall into routines pretty soon, it’s time to start habits…but only the good kind. Make it your mission to avoid forming as many bad habits as possible. Obviously the occasional procrastination or all-nighter will pop up, but do whatever you can to keep those sorts of things occasional. Focus as hard as you can on making the following things happen (as well as any additional things you can think of), and soon enough they will become another part of your routine, even more so something that made your semester significantly better- or even changed your life.
Ever since we were little, people have been telling us to make friends at school. There are quite a few ways to do this, obviously. But there are a couple things about this that I think are exceptionally important. If you live in Campus Housing or in an apartment with people you don’t know very well or even at all, get to know them. You’re living with these people after all, and whether or not you have a relationship with these people will dictate how your entire living experience will go. Plus, if everything works out, there is a chance you will become lifelong friends. If you don’t speak with your roommates, there are simple ways to go about changing that. My freshman year, one of my roommates had the same morning math class as I did. My senior memory isn’t serving me as best as it should be, but on either the second or third day of class, I asked her if she wanted to walk to class together. Even though the first few times were forced interactions, it eventually became natural, and we are now best friends. It definitely won’t always go that way, but remaining at least cordial and having conversations is important to being happy in your living space.
Another important thing to do in the first few weeks is to “make friends” in class. I don’t necessarily mean it in that exact way. It is a good idea to make friends wherever possible, but I’m referring to finding a buddy or two for class purposes. You may want to study together, to text one another and ask about homework, or to let one another know what was missed during an absence. This is something I tended not to do (unless I already knew someone in class) and it made it really difficult to study on my own or move on without the notes from a day I missed.
Along the exact same line, take good notes. Don’t take notes that will only make sense when you are writing them down; take notes that will make sense in December during finals week when you suddenly forget everything you’ve learned all semester. Write out full sentences if need be. Highlight when necessary. Take notes that would make sense to someone else – whether or not you plan to ever share your notes with someone else. There’s really no point in ever writing anything down in class if you aren’t going to do it well…the professor most likely doesn’t care if you take notes. It’s for you. So do it well!
One thing your professors most likely do care about (and that will affect you, too) is whether or not you are awake and alert in class. We all get tired, more like exhausted, pretty much every week. College is hard, and there are a lot of obligations and hours of sleep lost. But the point is – it all comes full circle. Don’t be falling asleep in a class that you stayed up for many nights in a row studying. All that exhaustion is for a reason, and it’s silly to wind up trying to catch up on sleep or even just be accidentally falling asleep when you were staying up for your education. Do whatever it takes to stay awake. You can sleep later on.
A good method to try and prevent extreme exhaustion is to maintain a sleep schedule. Obviously this isn’t that easy to do, and I don’t mean a ridiculously strict sleep schedule. But going to bed around the same time (within a decently sized window) and getting up at the same time each day will help your body adjust to the change. Even if you are off Tuesdays/Thursdays or have a day where you start later, wake up at the earliest time you need to get up at during the week. That way you’ll be ready to do it again the next day, and you’ll have more time in the day with which to accomplish things. It is college after all…always make time for a nap! One of the perks of being a college kid…
The best way to be able to stay on a sleep schedule is to accomplish things when you can and avoid procrastination like the plague. Writing down any and all due dates on the PLANNER that I so frequently recommend will help keep you on track and aware of what is to come. It allows you to figure out things in advance and (hopefully) prevent you from scrambling at the last minute to complete assignments and study for exams. This may even motivate you to do homework/projects/studying ahead of time and cause less stress as it comes, since things can pile up fast with multiple classes. The best part of it is that when you get things done ahead of time, you have more room for fun and sleep (what are those?)
As you are writing assignments down, make sure you aren’t doing so for no reason. Yes, there are the assignments that professors will know whether or not you’ve completed, like responses, problems, essays, etc. But there are also those that people try to get away without doing…most often reading assignments. Just do them. I’m not just saying that because I’m an English major or because I will usually read anything that is put in front of me. Once again- what’s the point of taking the class if you aren’t willing to learn and motivated to do so? Do the reading assignment. Besides-what if the teacher calls on you to answer a question?
Lastly, keep it clean. That is, your living space and homework space. The less clutter or mess around you, the less stressed out you’ll feel. Having a clean environment to do work and relax in will help you be the best student possible. Make time each week (or day, if you need to) to clean up your space. It’s a simple thing that you can do that will make a huge difference in your happiness in the long run.
Good luck with your week!