Wowzers! It is hard to believe that August is almost over. This means that our favorite time of year is fast approaching and I am not talking about Christmas. This magical time is much better–the beginning of the new school year. Perhaps the thought of no longer being able to sleep in on every day that ends in “Y” or freely float about the day with little itinerary is almost too much to bare. For those of us who have worked all summer the transition may be a bit smoother. With a strategic plan and an optimistic attitude, this could possibly be the best semester yet to come. I now have quite a few college years behind me, and from my experiences I have found 3 essential steps to successfully prepare for the start of school. So, here we go…back to school again.
1. Get Some Sleep
Before I am ready to endure the race of a semester or even begin to prepare, I first like to get on a healthy sleeping schedule. Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. Sleepless nights impair attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I need all the brain power possible to be fruitful in my studies. Bed times are not just for kids. Setting a reoccurring sleep time will help regulate your sleep cycle. This routine will let your body know when it is time to wind down and go to sleep. We are ruled by our biological clock, and when we create a healthy sleep routine our body’s energy levels will naturally drop, our eyes will become heavy, and we will crave the comfort of our pillow.
Now that a bed time is established, start an evening ritual that will complement your sleeping time. It is best to start your nightly routine a half hour before the appointment you set with the sand man. Let’s say you plan on being in dreamland at 10:00, start your routine at 9:30. I am usually very successful at accomplishing my routine and hopping into bed, but once I am in bed I do not drift into a heavy sleep right away. My mind always seems to play a cruel joke on me every night at bedtime. For some reason the coziness of my pillow sends my brain racing into overdrive. Suddenly, I am thinking of old worries, future assignments, upcoming deadlines, and other bilious annoyances. To stop dwelling on life’s stresses I jot them down on a piece of paper. I find writing them down allows me feel organized and puts my mind at ease. This way I can look at them in the morning with a fresh perspective.
2. Be Prepared
After the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep, it is time to be prepared. Create a self-check list: Do you have the necessary supplies, books, and material? Do you know where all of your classes take place? There is nothing more embarrassing (well maybe a few things) than walking into the wrong classroom five minutes late because you were in a hurry and mistook a 6 for an 8 on the classroom door. Print your class schedule and hang on to it the first week of classes. There is no crime in being overly prepared. I find myself double checking classroom numbers well into the second week of classes. Maybe because I have worn the shoes of a freshman who is guilty of walking into the wrong classroom a few minutes late… Awkward.
Once you have found your way to class, set clear goals the first day of school for each individual class. This will provide academic support for the rest of the semester. I often refer back to my specific goals to make sure I am mastering the material and being efficient with my time. One of the biggest time wasters in school is not learning material the first time that it is presented.
3. Embrace Endurance
Finally, embrace the endurance run that begins with every semester. There is no fastest way to the finish line at the end of the semester. When final exams arrive, every single student in your class will be taking the same final at the same time. Pace your work load and be productive with time management. “Endurance”: It is the spirit which can bear all things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope. It is the quality which keeps man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal”-Anonymous.
Enjoy the start of a brand new year! And Happy Studies!
Health Science, Pre-Physician Assistant
Leadership Allied Health