Finding Balance During Your First Few Weeks Back at School

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As a current college student, I know firsthand how difficult it can be transitioning back to school. As I now enter my senior year of college, I have learned over the last three years how to successfully get back into the swing of things. During the first few weeks of the semester, it is very important to find the balance between school, personal time, and work.

Whether it is your first semester in college or your last, every semester should start out with having a plan on how to conquer your classes easily and sufficiently. Starting classes can be difficult at first, but after a few sessions it starts becoming second nature. It is important to attend every class so that you do not miss out on any important information or assignments.

When I first started classes my freshman year, I was unprepared because I was not keeping track of my homework assignments and I was having problems with time management. Within the first few weeks, I decided to purchase a planner so that I could keep track of everything, and I think that it was the best decision that I could have made. For me, the most important thing to have in college is a planner or an agenda. It is extremely important to keep track of your assignments and daily tasks. I now write just about everything in my planner – I make reminders to do my laundry, go to the grocery store, and email my professors, while I also write down all of the things I need to accomplish that day like homework assignments, meetings, or what I should start studying for. I think it’s critical to keep track of stuff, even if it is just little reminders. Planners are also a good way of keeping track of birthdays, your work schedule, and important deadlines. In my personal experience, your planner should be your lifeline to keep you up to date on all of your assignments and after school activities.

Going back to school can be difficult at first, especially if you’re juggling a job as well. Most students hold part-time or even sometimes full-time jobs during their time at college. Although sometimes it feels impossible to juggle both school and work, it can be done. Before you start back at school, notify your employer and let them know your schedule so that they can accommodate you. Make sure that you keep track of your work schedule, and try to plan ahead when to study and do your homework before or after you go to work. As someone who has held multiple jobs while juggling college classes, I have found it to be challenging, but it also feels really rewarding in the end when you are able to accomplish so many things at one time.

Another thing that I think can help your semester go smoothly, is trying to make friends in your classes during the first few weeks. Having a friend in class can make things a little easier when you have a class project or when you have questions outside of class. It is always nice to have someone to fall back on if you did not understand an assignment or update you on things you missed if you could not make it to class that day. Having friends can potentially be a great way to become more involved on campus as well. It encourages you to join more activities and clubs on campus if you have a friend that is willing to join in, especially if you are shy. Chatfield has great ways to become more involved like chess club, the student service club, walking club and more. Do not be afraid to join in on activities – they could be great things to put on your resume in the future!

If it’s your first semester in a college setting, I think one of the most important things to remember is that you are here to better your future. It is common to feel overwhelmed, but don’t let that scare you! After your first semester, you will feel like a pro when classes start back up again the next semester. The next few years will fly by before you know it! Although it seems like it will take forever to finish your degree, I promise it goes by a lot quicker than you would expect and by the time you are done, you will look back and think, “Now that wasn’t so bad!”

As the first week of class looms nearer, start preparing for your classes soon. I suggest buying your planner before classes start and outlining your work and class schedules along with important events that you know of. This gives you an opportunity to get ahead and feel more prepared and organized before you start class. Make sure you have talked to your employer and figure out how you are going to fit work and school into your busy schedule. Do not forget to block out times in the day to study and catch up on homework as well.

As I prepare myself to move back to Dayton for my senior year, I am also trying to find balance. I have started organizing my weekly schedule, made arrangements with my two employers, and am making sure that I have everything I need for the semester like pens, notebooks, and index cards. You can never be too prepared! Although it can feel really overwhelming, it gets easier as the semester carries on. Try not to stress too much and remember – finding balance is the most important thing you can do!

-Taylor Wilson, student at the University of Dayton