I’m flying back to school Wednesday with one year of college experience under my belt. The back-to-school anxiety has picked up this month with chatter about majors, summer internships (for NEXT summer) and which competitive clubs to apply for when school starts.
Here are a few ways to help alleviate your stress when going back to school. As soon as I step on to my campus, I plan to unpack and then follow this list. (And I think you should too.)
Figure out your schedule.
This week, I added my class schedule to Google Calendar and made sure that the classes were synched onto my iPhone’s calendar as well. If you are an incoming freshman, you may want to walk to the buildings where your classes are to get an understanding of the time it takes to travel, as well as where your class is located. (I remember being embarrassed asking upperclassmen to direct me to buildings on the first day.)
Additionally, if you have registered for more classes than you plan on taking, it might be a good idea to figure out which classes you enjoy the most and which ones you might be OK dropping or taking another semester. As an example, I signed up for the maximum Vanderbilt allows of 18 credit hours (six classes), but I will probably only take 15 credit hours for the semester (five classes).
Check out the syllabi on the first day of classes and start to plan in advance.
Once you figure out which classes you are taking, check over the syllabi in order to know the dates of papers which are due, exams, quizzes or other assignments. A few of my friends made a spreadsheet for their classes of important dates, as well as what they should be working on each day in order to make sure they were ready for the next day of class.
Look into office hours and other ways of getting help.
I was speaking with a few incoming freshmen this week, and I mentioned how “getting help is a strength.” While it can take time out of your day to attend office hours with professors, these office hours may help you feel more comfortable and confident with the material. Additionally, if there are TA office hours or study hours, I would recommend attending them, even if you feel that the material comes easily. I spent multiple hours at office hours and tutoring during my freshman year, and I always came out of each session feeling better and more relaxed.
Check out events on campus and find ways to get involved.
Make sure to utilize your calendar by adding different activities. Last year, I attended a few information sessions on different affinity groups, organizations and clubs, and these were ways I was able to meet upperclassmen as well as other freshmen.
Each year, my university holds a club fair which is where students are able to see how many diverse organizations exist on campus. It is extremely easy to get involved in clubs at this fair as students can give their contact information to learn about meetings and commitments.
Hit the bookstore on the off-hours (if needed).
I am one of the few people in my friend group who buys paper textbooks (usually, used) at the bookstore. That being said, the bookstore can often be crowded in college because others are also racing to get their textbooks and school supplies.
If you are not getting your textbooks or other materials at the bookstore, you may be drawn to the school spirit section. Despite Vanderbilt’s record of losing football games, I actually bought a scrunchie to show my love for the gold and black. If you do not want to buy a t-shirt, I have found that a lot of us actually collect school shirts through clubs, meetings, and grade events.
Get to know where your necessities are.
It is important to take a basic needs tour. On move-in day, I was confused about where to get food, so knowing where all possible dining halls are is key. If you are a picky eater (like me), look into the options at each dining hall. Along the same lines, locating bathrooms beyond your dorm can also be helpful.