Tips for Back to School
Happy Friday everyone! September is almost here and it is officially almost fall! My personal favorite season here on the eastern shore. One of the bigger things going on right now is back to school. This impacts a lot of people's lives. Whether you’re a student, parent, educator or member of the community. This area changes during the school year. With numerous colleges nearby, flocks of college students (no pun intended SU students) come back from summer vacation and breathe new life into the area. I’ve realized I must not have a good grasp on time as it feels like just yesterday I was in college. I mean I still have dreams that I overslept and missed an assignment and wake up only to realize I’m 32, it’s 5 am and I haven’t had an assignment due for around 10 years. Even though my younger friends say I’m approaching my time to apply for an AARP card, I thought I’d use this week's blog to highlight some tips for students going back to school. I am writing this mainly thinking about college since at my old age I’m not sure I can be trusted to remember all the way back in high school. Plus from what I’ve seen they don’t even do basic math the same any more. As much as it pains me to say, my high school specific advice may be dated. But at the same time a lot of these are general advice that can help a student at any level. These are things I’m sure I was told but looking back are the main things I think helped our would have helped make school much smoother. As always feel free to comment or email if you have any thoughts or questions or if you have any tips you think could help a student this year! In the meantime, here's Ryan's declassified school survival guide (Excuse me for the dated reference).
Organization-Figured I’d start with the simplest yet maybe hardest to do. Let’s face it most of us have the intention of being extremely organized. I can admit it took until I was nearly 30 to really feel like I was organized and even now I know there’s ways I can improve. But in college, even with the best intentions I was to put it nicely, a mess. I mean I came into every school year with binders and organizers and everything I needed to be organized and always prepared. Then life happens. Between school, homework, any sports or clubs, and friends life can get hectic quick. Add in lack of sleep and a ton of pressure and stress and all those plans of organization can go out the window fast. As you can see it’s not always easy but I promise you if you can stay at least somewhat organized it will make things a lot easier. Being unorganized leads to losing things, missing deadlines and eventually adding more stress and difficulties to learning. My advice is make sure everything has a place and take the extra few seconds it takes to put them there and it will save you minutes or hours in the long run.
Time Management-This goes hand in hand with organization and in the same sense is just as hard to commit to. Even now having a set schedule sounds amazing and is the goal but that’s not how life is. Trust me I’m more schedule oriented than the average person and I have found out that no matter how hard you try you have to be somewhat flexible. I’m the guy who would rather plan a vacation than take one. I love seeing a day planned out perfectly from waking up, to daily activities to scheduling when I go to bed. My best way to counter this especially for college is leave a gap in between every activity and give yourself time ranges instead of strict start and stop times. Overestimate how long things will take and give yourself time for the unexpected in between. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you will be and how much more free time you’ll actually have if you follow even a loose schedule.
Read Related Material- This isn’t the most exciting tip and is going to take some discipline but doing just slightly more than you’re asked goes a long way. Most can get by just reading the designated material and/or doing the bare minimum and still getting a fine grade. However, as someone who did that with classes I wasn’t as interested in, it makes the tests and papers as well as retaining the information years later a lot more difficult. Just taking a little extra effort to research and read some material on the author your class is reading or the scientific principle you’re learning about will help tie things together and make everything you're learning make more sense. Also read the assigned material ahead of time so when the teacher is teaching it you already have a basic knowledge of it and can better absorb what they are teaching. I especially recommend this for the classes that have a direct relation to what you want to do in life. You should already have interest in it so it shouldn’t be hard to surround yourself with material related to that.
Know All Available Resources- This is where I feel like I messed up most in college. I was more of an introvert who went to class, studied and studied some more to get good grades. And anything fun outside of school was something me and my friends just put together. Schools have so many resources and outlets available for students that I didn’t even bother looking into. They have study groups, clubs, events and more all designed to make your school experience better. My advice is do as many as possible, or in other words don’t make the same mistakes I did. Not only will it help, but it will introduce you to other students and staff with similar interests that can be invaluable in making school easier and more enjoyable. Also, especially early on try some things that you wouldn’t normally do. You never know what you’ll get out of it or what you might find out you enjoy that you would have never expected. There’s so many clubs and sports and groups that you can easily find something you’ll enjoy.
Life Balance/Rewards- I had to include this for a few reasons. One is it may be the most important and also my previous tips are more focused towards asking you to do more of things you probably don’t want to do. This is where I real you back in. While college is a lot about learning and bettering your future, you still need to enjoy yourself. I believe it’s critical to have fun in college to avoid getting burnt out and overextending yourself. All work and no play can actually end up hurting you in the long run. It can also take a physical toll on top of the mental one. Always make sure to get sleep and do things you enjoy. Take breaks, watch movies, take a nap. Whatever you need to energize yourself and help you enjoy school more. Also use a reward system. If you don’t do as well on an assignment use that as a guide on what you need to do more or less to get a different result. But when you do well, reward yourself. This can be with a treat, a night out or whatever you want.