Back to School Tips for the College Student

After a long, eventful – or maybe deliberately lazy – summer, a new school year has arrived! It would be wise to take action now by organizing your time, before things become hectic! Sure, you have your class schedule in place, but have you developed a schedule that involves study time, exercise and leisure time, shopping and errand time, eating, cooking, and clean up time, or even nap time?

Time management is a crucial life skill I struggled with as a Freshman. Here are some tips that may, hopefully, help you make a smoother transition than I did:

1. Plan ahead. Don’t leave it up to working on tasks when you feel like it. They can build up fast and before you know it, you’re sinking further and further until you have to drop a class, resign from your part-time job, give up an extracurricular activity, or break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend (haha, yea right) to stay afloat.

2. Read the material to be covered in class, BEFORE class. Unfortunately, class lectures do not cover all of the material of the course. What does not get covered in class, you are responsible for learning on your own. By reading ahead, you’ll have the opportunity to ask your professor specific questions, in class, on something that you may have not understood. Not only will you help yourself understand the material better in doing so, you will help your professor to see what they need to focus more on, and in turn, help the entire class perform better on exams.

3. Make time to study everyday. Studying a day or two before the exam may have cut it in high school, but unless you are a genius or gambling on scraping by with a C average throughout your college career (good luck with that), you must make time to study with or without an exam around the corner. You will retain the information better and save yourself a ton of stress and sleepless nights.

4. Don’t skip meals. It’s easy to get caught up in the task at hand and neglect your body of proper nutrition. Making the time to eat a meal can help boost your energy and ability to focus when you need it most; be it during a long, boring class, a grueling exam, or sports practice. Try packing your lunch and snacks to ensure that you don’t miss a meal due to long lines in the cafeteria and other campus dining areas.

5.  Get moving. Take time out from academics and go for a walk/run, bike ride with a friend, or sign-up for a group fitness class that your school’s recreation center offers. If you can manage to fit it in your budget, personal training is a valuable service, especially for those new to fitness, as your trainer will ensure that you are performing exercises safely and effectively. Without a healthy body, the mind cannot work to its optimal level.

6. Rest. Taking naps was one of the best things I could do for myself, especially on my busiest days. Setting those times where I would turn off the outside world to recenter myself and recharge was a life saver. Sometimes I’d be unable to fall asleep, which was fine, because nap time would then turn into meditation time. I still gave myself the much needed break, and going back into my work with a clear head resulted in a far better outcome than working non-stop until I burned out did.

7. Discover if you are a night owl or an early bird, then submit to it! Pushing yourself to be in an 8:00AM class when you are most creative and productive at 1:00AM will only disrupt your internal clock, just as studying ’till 3:00AM when you’re an early riser will. Fighting your biological clock will produce less success in the long run. You may find that you are an inbetweener, which is great (and makes me a tad bit envious) because that means you can be flexible! In any case, discovering your own way of accomplishing tasks, makes life a whole lot easier!

These are just a few of the things that I have struggled with and overcome as a first-time college student. Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Comment below!

R.I.P. Alexis Dale, 18-year-old FIU student who was struck and killed by a car when crossing the street in front of FIU this past Sunday morning, August 20th, 2017.

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