Every college student has been there. Shopping for supplies, purchasing textbooks, and moving back into dorm rooms full of optimism and, sometimes, excitement. Most of us do everything possible to prepare as a new semester approaches, often feeling ready by the time that first day comes. But as deadlines, projects, and endless readings begin to flow in, the stress builds until the weight becomes almost unbearable.
Nearly every semester draws anxiety to an extent, but it would be a lie to say that some aren’t worse than others. So, here are some survival tips for crawling your way through a heavily-loaded semester:
1. Establish your goals
It’s important to have an understanding of what you’re aiming for. Are you shooting for straight As? Are extracurricular activities important to you? Knowing what you would like to gain from a semester will help you keep that hopeful I-can-do-it outlook on academic life as well as help you better organize your time.
2. Create a schedule or two
Deadlines are obviously necessary to keep track of, and if you like to keep things neat like I do, planners are a lifesaver. Don’t be afraid to get a pack of good colored pens and really go to town. But just know that some weeks may call for micro-management to make sure everything gets done. Divide up your workload by each day to stay on track.
3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
Remember how I said deadlines are important? Maybe crucial is the better word. Especially for maintaining good grades and not falling behind. So, focus mainly on the assignments coming up and do what needs to be done first first, while keeping in mind what will follow.
4. Use any extra time to get ahead, or don’t
Once you get all upcoming work submitted, you may be met with some down time. There are two directions you can take. Option 1: Use this time to start on future projects, especially if you are feeling determined. That way, the next time you have something due but aren’t feeling up to school, you can relax knowing you’re all caught up. Option 2: Use this time as a break. Catch up on housecleaning, get together with friends, or kick back with some Netflix. It really doesn’t matter which direction you take here because both can be rewarding in the end.
5. Treat yourself
Any time you know you’ve been working hard and would like to treat yourself, by all means do so. Self-care is key to being happy and healthy. A night out is well-deserved after you’ve studied your midterm notes for days, just as getting your favorite coffee is a nice Zway to end a grueling day spent accomplishing goals. Big or small, the reward is up to you. Just remember that taking time for yourself is great for staying motivated and mentally sane.
6. Take a nap
Let’s face it, we’re all exhausted. Some afternoons, I’ll come home and get comfortable, ready to get to work, only to realize that I literally cannot stay awake. Long nights aren’t something that college students are unfamiliar with, and after a while it will begin to take a toll on our mental and physical health. Don’t force yourself to push through if your body is saying no. Lie down and get some rest instead. You’ll be surprised with how much more you can achieve after you wake.
7. Remember it is only temporary
Throughout an overbearing semester, you’ll experience all kinds of emotions. Some days, you’ll want to cry. Other days, you will cry. When you feel yourself slipping and are considering giving up, stop for a moment. Remind yourself that this will not last forever. You will receive your degree. You will get that job you dream about. And it will happen much quicker than you realize. So, just breathe.