Start the New School Year Off Right

Back to School

Photo by Monica Echols

Four tips to hit the ground running in September



It’s back to school time again. Whether it’s your first semester in college or your last, transitioning from summer break to school can be difficult for any student. If you’re one of the many students who struggle with readjusting to school after being away for months on summer vacation, here are some tips to help you get back on track this semester.

Get your sleep schedule back on track: For those who spent their summer relaxing and sleeping in, the adjustment from sleeping until noon to waking up for a 9 a.m. class can be difficult. One way to ease the transition is to set an alarm for slightly earlier than you’re used to waking up a few days before your first class. If you haven’t done this, and you find yourself yawning through class, try going to bed earlier. You don’t have to suddenly go from falling asleep at 1 a.m. to being tucked in bed by 8 p.m. Simply going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night can help you get a good night’s sleep so you’ll feel refreshed and alert for all of your classes.

Keep track of your school work and other activities: Now that school is back in session, it is only a matter of time before you get that dreaded first assignment. Before you know it, other assignments start piling in, and you can easily find yourself drowning in a sea of work. Add in any jobs or extracurricular activities and you can become overwhelmed trying to keep track of it all. An easy way to stay on top of your busy schedule is to use a calendar or planner. Whether you use a physical planner or an app, having a system to keep track of your schedule can be helpful. As soon as you get your syllabus, take note of important dates such as test dates and due dates for major assignments. Update your calendar regularly to include your work schedule, homework assignments, and other activities so you don’t fall behind.

Figure out what study habits work for you: Once you know what your assignments are, the next step is to actually do the work. It’s best to figure out an effective study system early in the semester so you don’t struggle later when your workload gets more intense. Does working in a neat, quiet environment help you focus? Perhaps doing your work in the library or a study room might be best for you. Do you work best when you have other people to talk to? Try forming a study group. Exchange phone numbers with a few people in your classes so you can study together or exchange any notes you may have missed. Start forming good study habits now to carry you through the semester.

Get involved on campus: School work is important, but it is also important to have fun. Joining a club or student organization is a great way to meet new people and participate in fun activities. Clubs can also help you network and develop new skills. Mason has more than 350 organizations, so you’re bound to find something you like. Events like the GetConnected Fair on Sept. 5, and The Source, a similar event that focuses on black student organizations, on Sept. 7, allow you to see what clubs Mason has to offer its students. Many clubs also hold interest meetings during the first few weeks of the semester. Getting involved on campus can help you have an active social life and form a community with other students.