With the start of the school year and the stress looming, it can seem quite nerve-racking to come to campus, whether for the first time or for the first time in a year and a half. Having personally experienced college before and during the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel like a more than competent student; While I don’t have all of the answers, I have compiled a list of general tips that every student can use.
1. Take advantage of the common areas
I know that with social distancing and mask warrants it can seem impossible to hang out in common areas, but some of my best memories of college are lying in the grass around Duck Pond with friends or studying in the Zimmerman Library. Just being with other people makes the day more interesting. This time around, we just have to do it more carefully.
Having these areas at our disposal is a great privilege that many people take for granted. Even the seating areas on the edge of Smith Plaza are a great place to meet a friend for coffee or homework, so don’t stay locked in your room if you can help – I promise you’ll be better off!
2. Use an agenda
Non-planners (including me) make their lives so much harder for no reason. I just got a diary and I’m already feeling a million times better for the semester. Sure, it’s good for school, but if you are involved in a student organization or have a job, a planner will completely change your life.
One of the things that kept me from using one was the fact that I never knew how to use it properly. At the start of each school year, without fail, I would buy a new diary and instantly neglect it. “The Organized Money”, a YouTube channel focused on productivity and organization, has a video tutorial that provides useful tips for using a planner to the fullest, and that was a lifeline. By far the best quote from the video was “a messy diary is better than a blank diary”; there are tons of other videos and articles like this if you don’t know where to start.
3. Get involved on campus
Now that the school is back in person, this is the perfect opportunity to find a student organization to be a part of. It can make your college years endlessly more fun and meaningful. Having a social pastime outside of class gives you the opportunity to explore your interests, make new friends, and maybe even find a new passion.
Even if you are a high school student, it is not too late! I can say from direct experience that it is so much better to get involved a little later than never to get involved at all.
4. Don’t work too hard
This is probably the most important tip on this list – not working to death is the key to being successful in college. You might think that the more you study the better you will do, but the truth is, if you overwork yourself, you are only setting yourself up for failure. “Burnout” is not just a word therapists use to refer to theater – it is a very real and widespread problem, especially for students.
I know, I know, you’re busy. You don’t have time to watch the show you missed the other day or cook a nice dinner. But I don’t buy it. You either need to take the time or find a few breaks in the day where you can do a little something for yourself. Listen to your body and be aware of when you should take a break; it might save you a big mistake.
5. Be honest with your teachers
In my experience, professors are more likely to be lenient with their students if the excuse for late assignment is, “I have to be honest with you; I woke up late and I didn’t have time to do it ”, against the repetitive lie“ My dog died yesterday ”(that’s a spiel they’ve heard four times this week already).
I also noticed that during our year of online classes, the teachers were more generous than before with grades and deadlines; I have no doubt that it will continue in this semester. Tensions are always high and the future is uncertain, so it’s more than likely that teachers won’t expect you to be at your peak. Just tell the truth and cross your fingers.
I realize that in this time of delta variant outbreaks of COVID-19 and generalized anxiety, everyone has been on edge. While these hacks certainly won’t make the COVID disaster go away, I hope the advice can ease the stress in this time of transition. Remember, you can’t control everything, but try to make do with what you have.
Emma Trevino is the cultural editor of the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @itsemmatr