If you are one of the many thousands of prospective students around the world getting ready to head to college in the coming weeks—either for the first time or as a returning student—the dying days of summer vacation can often be fraught with anxiety.
Much of this apprehension comes from knowing that the carefree, relaxed setting of summer will soon give way to the relentless onslaught of keeping up with classes, assignment deadlines, exams, extracurriculars, and maybe even part-time work.
Given that all of these obligations have to be balanced at once—and hopefully, in a way that will not be detrimental to your studies—preparation and organization are incredibly important. This is true regardless of whether you are a freshman enrolling for the first time or a seasoned student who is hoping to get their academic life in order before they graduate.
No matter which category you fall under, here are some basic tips, tricks, and strategies that will help you to prepare for starting college.
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Harness the power of flexible learning
One of the best things to come out of the pandemic was the rapid rise of online learning.
Online technology has truly changed education forever. The rise of e-learning has not only increased accessibility, but it also has the power to increase the retention of information. Learning in this manner also takes less time and creates more engaged students.
If you are a student who is pursuing some or all of your learning online, be sure to take advantage of this. In particular, online learning allows you to fit classes in flexibly around your schedule. This might mean packing your evenings with catch-up or review lectures or getting them out of the way in the morning when your brain is sharper.
Online programs like the Spalding master of social work program are great choices for students because they can be taken on a flexible basis without sacrificing the quality of the education. Be sure to take advantage of any opportunities for online learning if you are a first-time or returning student this year!
Learn to cook
Although not strictly an academic tip, keeping yourself properly fueled is incredibly important to sustaining your energy levels during those long days on campus and through those late-night online learning sessions. Although relying on pre-packaged food or takeout might seem like an attractive option in the moment, there are ultimately much better ways to source some sustenance!
Learning how to cook and prepare food ahead of time is an important skill that will stick with you throughout your studies and beyond.
This doesn’t mean you have to become a Michelin-starred chef. Instead, learn a few simple meals that can be prepared quickly, cheaply, and ahead of time. This will allow you to have tasty, nourishing food that can be grabbed when you are in a rush, without sacrificing any nutritional value!
Get a planner (either physical or virtual)
An important part of staying organized and preparing yourself to hit the ground running when the new semester starts up is using a time and date management system to keep track of all your deadlines and obligations.
There are few easier ways of doing this than with a planner. Planners can help you keep track of important dates, deadlines, and other events. Consider using a monthly planner to keep track of the big deadlines and a daily planner to sketch out your schedule for the day.
Balancing both the long- and short-term view like this is a great way of hitting everything on your to-do list without getting overwhelmed.
Although we have a preference for physical planners, virtual planners work equally well. This could include to-do list apps or tools like Google calendar.
Get your finances in order
It goes without saying that going back to study can be a financially straining time. In addition to increasing school fees, the general cost of living has gone through the roof in recent months. It is also worth remembering that anxiety about finances is one of the leading causes of stress among students.
For this reason, an important part of preparing yourself to hit the ground running at school will be preparing yourself financially for the year that lies ahead.
This could mean making sure everything is in order with your student loans, seeing what scholarship or funding options are open to you, or making sure you have enough saved up from part-time work.
It also means thinking about what your monthly budget will be for the year. Although budgeting can often be an emotionally draining task to get out of the way, it pays dividends when it comes to reducing stress about your finances.
Get your IT supplies sorted
In the recent past, getting your school supplies ready for the academic year ahead consisted of purchasing books and mountains of stationery. These days, however, the fact that an increasing amount of school work is done digitally and virtually means this is likely no longer the case.
Depending on what course of study you have chosen, you will likely be spending a lot of time in front of your computer. This might include watching classes online, accessing learning material, and completing assignments. Increasingly, exams are being conducted virtually, which means access to a computer will be indispensable for successfully completing your studies.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go out and purchase the most expensive laptop you can find, but it does mean you need to do an audit to figure out what your needs actually are.
Many universities will have programs in place that give you discounts on purchasing computer equipment, so be sure to take advantage of any that are on offer.