These past months have been a whirlwind of chaos, making it easy to feel apprehensive about how to enter this upcoming school year. Having the right tools under your belt can give you a sense of normalcy and calm that will send you into this school year feeling confident and prepared.
One simple way to be successful in school is to schedule your day. This can consist of a morning routine, a bulleted list or detailed paragraphs. A study conducted by Tel Aviv University was discussed in a Piedmont Healthcare article entitled “Why Routines are Good for Your Health”. Citing the study by Tel Aviv University, piedmont.org said that, “Predictable, repetitive routines are calming and help reduce anxiety. They’ll also help you take control of your day and subsequently, your life.” The start of the school year is the perfect time to take control over your days; it is all up to you being creative and figuring out what best sets you up for success.
It is not uncommon for people to skip their wellness routines during times of high stress. The current COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. In his article, “Why Routines are Important for Mental Health”, featured on Hackensack Meridian Health’s website, Larry Ginsberg addresses the impact of the pandemic. “During the COVID-19 pandemic it has been easy to lose track of time as our rigorous daily schedule and commute have been replaced by being quarantined at home for endless hours and days, and the lack of a schedule has made many of us more uncomfortable than we had imagined,” Ginsberg said. Sometimes keeping a set schedule seems too difficult, time-consuming or rigid. The good news is, many of these issues can be negated if your routine is enjoyable, organized and easy to manage.
Lindsay Jayne, a senior studying Creative Advertising, said she writes her schedule out on Sundays to stay organized and on track. Setting aside time to look at the week ahead is a strategy to avoid making planning a stressful activity. You can ask yourself: What assignments are going to be due? Are there any exams to start prepping for? Any chores that can be taken care of this week? How am I going to take care of myself this week mentally, emotionally and physically? This will make sure that you’re not caught off guard with any assignments, exams or other commitments.
A schedule can also be used to write in time for self-care, relaxation and social events. Sometimes our weeks get very busy. It may feel like all we are doing is studying for the next exam or writing that next paper. This is where it can be valuable to fit in time for you and for whatever makes you feel balanced.
Rishi Desai, a sophomore studying Economics, said that it is important to have a good balance from the start. “It can be easy to fall into the social trap of not seeing your friends in a while,” Desai said. “Getting into a good school/social life balance as soon as you can can really set the tone for the rest of the semester.” This goes back to scheduling in those times for self care. Part of being balanced is having the time for socialization.
Lisa Samalonis, a professor and author of the article, “Words of Advice From a College Professor to Her First Year Students”, on grownandflown.com, said, “There is no ‘perfect.’ I know you want a 4.0, but college is about learning, trying new things and occasionally failing at some endeavors.” It is natural to strive for excellent grades in college, but it will likely be beneficial to your overall well being if you maintain a healthy balance of work and play.
Charlotte Fritz, PhD, an associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Portland State University discussed the importance of breaks. In Kirsten Weir’s article on apa.org (the American Psychological Association’s website), Fritz said that, “Breaks can improve our moods, overall well-being and performance capacity.” So rather than pulling an all-nighter with energy drinks, try squeezing in a lunch date with a friend, a serene nature walk or a few hours where you can step away from the books and dedicate time for yourself.
It is no secret that college can be a big expense. Between textbooks, school supplies, room and board costs and daily living expenses, it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to keep track of your spending. Stephen Sellner from Citizens Bank and author of citizensbank.com article, “How to Save Money as a College Student”, said to, “Be mindful when shopping for school supplies. Ask yourself if you really need this item before throwing it in your real or digital shopping cart.” One way to save some money is by taking a look at any leftover materials you have from previous school years and seeing if anything can be reused.
Another tip to save both money and stress comes from junior, Fabrizio Darby, studying Biology, Health Science and Creative Writing. “Always ask around for books before you jump and buy new ones, you may get them way cheaper or maybe even free,” said Darby. The UM bookstore also often sells used books at a cheaper price than new copies!
Becky Mansfield, author of the article “Back to School Shopping Strategies That Save Money & Time”, urges students to start gathering items early in the summer and set them aside. Mansfield said that getting your supplies ahead of time gives you the time to organize and set up what you need to.
Another piece of advice is to maintain open communication with your professors. While it may seem intimidating to approach a new professor, asking them questions and clarifying certain unclear topics ensures that you won’t feel unprepared when you need to hand in an assignment or take an exam.
College is also a time to make lifelong friendships. One Business Insider article by Maggie Zhang, “The Best Advice That College Students Never Hear”, highlights the importance of genuine friendships during a time when so many different variables in your life are changing. Meredith Winn, whose advice was mentioned in the article, said, “Decide what you are looking for in a friend, and then find people with those qualities and seek out time with them. You won’t magically find your best friend.”
Randy Fitzgerald graduated from UM in 2021 and is one year into his law degree at the University of Miami School of Law. His piece of advice is, “Smile, say hello and meet new people— whether in line at Starbucks, or asking a group if their extra seat is open to sit with them, or just waiting for the Hurry ‘Cane.” Approaching new people can be intimidating, but everyone is likely to be feeling a bit uneasy and apprehensive. This might just be the perfect time to introduce yourself and be open to meeting new people. You never know when a valuable friendship is right around the corner.
Barry Schreier, who works as communications committee chair for the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, discussed the issue of feeling homesick in an article on U.S. News & World Report by Josh Moody. “It can come down to emotional things like missing a sense of belonging, a sense of being known, and all the comfort and regularity that come with that,” Schreir said.
Christopher Cline, a junior receiving his BFA in musical theatre, finds that bringing pieces of home with him to school, such as a family photo or favorite loungewear, has helped him deal with feeling homesick.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed on where to start, below we’ve provided an example of an easy routine to structure your day around:
- Wake up (approximately around the same time)
- Get ready for the day (brush teeth, take a shower, get dressed)
- Some self-care habits (watch a podcast, meditate, journal, read)
- Eat breakfast
- Chores/miscellaneous (take out the trash, water the plants, do the dishes)
- Head to school
- Complete some homework
- Grab lunch with a friend
- Go to class
- Cook dinner
- Relaxation time (see some friends, watch a movie, listen to music)
- Go to bed (approximately around the same time)
*This is just an example of one kind of schedule. There are countless possibilities, so use and edit this template in a way that fits for you and your lifestyle!
words & design_nina d’agostini.