It’s that time of year! College courses across the country are starting back up, which means you will soon be balancing work, school, and your personal life in a seemingly never-ending juggling act. It seems that too often, one of these things must give, and for many students (particularly freshmen), it’s school. Don’t let that happen to you! Take advantage of these back-to-school tips for college success:
Choose Your Courses Carefully
You may be tempted to cram as much coursework into the semester as possible so that four years from now, you can graduate a semester early. Though dedication and enthusiasm are certainly admirable traits when it comes to school, be careful! It’s easy to get in over your head and take on more than is reasonable. Doing so can not only jeopardize your semester, it may impact your entire college career.
Instead, think ahead, consider your educational goals carefully, and be mindful of your work schedule. When are you available to attend school? How many hours can you dedicate not only to class study, but home study as well? Work with a counselor if possible, and put together a course schedule that works for you. Don’t be put off by students who are taking 15 credits to your 12 – be mindful of your needs, and let them be mindful of theirs!
Establish Healthy Habits
The dreaded Freshman 15. Some say it’s a myth, many more say it’s quite real! What people might not tell you is that it has nothing to do with being a freshman, and everything to do with being a college student! Though eating a wholesome meal around the dinner table seems to be a practice from a bygone era, it’s safe to assume that what you’re eating at home is healthier than what you’re eating on the go (particularly when you’re a starving college student). To prevent weight gain, lethargy, and restlessness, establish healthy habits.
When establishing healthy habits, it is important to remember that sleep, diet, and exercise are equally important. However, it isn’t just weight gain that you should be mindful of (and honestly, 15 pounds isn’t going to kill you). College students can suffer from poor nutrition, a lack of physical activity, alcohol-related injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, drug-related injuries, and perhaps most simply, stress. To prevent and safeguard against these common health issues, be proactive and take precautions. Practice safe sex, eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, abstain from drug use, and exercise regularly.
Stay On Top of Your Workload
We just talked about the importance of staying healthy, and how stress is a significant risk for college students. One of the simplest ways to reduce your stress is to stay one step ahead of your obligations and responsibilities. When it comes to a heavy workload, it’s best to tackle things one step at a time. This is where time management apps like Evernote can help. These apps make it easy to take notes, create to-dos, and stay on task.
Modern college students have more tools at their disposal than ever before. Why not take advantage of them? The odds are good that if you are seeking a solution for a specific problem, there is a digital tool available in the form of an app or website. And many of them are completely free. They can free up mental space and time in your workday (or school day) by automating tasks and doing your job for you. So stay on top of your workload by staying organized.
Come Prepared! Have the Right Tools.
Speaking of tools, it’s best to arm yourself with tools that make sense for you. If you’re studying horticulture, you may literally be getting your hands dirty. In that case, you may want to ditch the iPad Pro and opt for something a bit more practical. However, if you’re studying liberal arts or engineering, then you may find that tablets, smartphones, laptops, and perhaps even a desktop are must-haves. And then there are the little things, like flash drives, Bluetooth speakers (for your dorm room, of course!), or a laptop lock. Think in terms of what you need, not what you want (sorry, but I can’t recommend you buy a flat screen television).
Of course, there are certain tools that all college students can benefit from, regardless of their discipline or major. You may not need a top-of-the-line Apple MacBook Pro when you head off to college, but if you want to function in the 21st century, for example, you’ll need a cell phone. Stay connected with friends and family back home, access tools and apps from anywhere; the list goes on. Thankfully, a few carriers offer great deals for college students. So if your parents recently broke the news that they will no longer pay your phone bill (it happened to me before college!), there’s no need to panic. Phone plans are more affordable than you may realize.
Tackle the Semester Head-on!
Going back to school can be incredibly stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. With these tips, you can approach the coming semester with confidence. Arm yourself with the tools you need, be proactive and studious, and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!