Advice for students going back to school
If you’re a new student who’s wondering how you’re going to balance daily and weekly requirements for your degree program with everything else you have to do, you’re not alone.
“The biggest issue most new students have is making the adjustment to the demands of their new schedule,” says Lisa Hendrickson, MA, area chair for the College of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Phoenix Madison Campus. Here are five things students can do:
Stick to your commitment.
“It’s important to acknowledge that while you may not have as much time to catch up on your favorite TV show,” Hendrickson notes, “what you’ll be doing instead is reading, improving your critical thinking and developing your own opinions” — all skills you’ll use in your career and personal relationships.
It may not be easy to give up some things you enjoy, she adds, but once you accept that you’ve made a commitment that involves sacrifice, it will be easier to focus on meeting all of your obligations.
Set aside specific study space.
“I think it’s crucial for new students to choose a dedicated space for studying,” says Heath Boice-Pardee, EdD, an online instructor in the PhD in higher education administration program, “even if it’s just a corner of your bedroom.
“Knowing that you are going to go to the same spot at 7 every night, or whenever you’ve figured out is best,” he notes, “is going to help you get into the swing of your new routine.”
Make every moment count.
Even if you’ve never been great at multitasking, develop the habit of doing schoolwork during lulls in your schedule.
“If you can shave off some homework while your dinner is simmering or while your kids are doing schoolwork,” Boice-Pardee says, “it’s going to be easier to accomplish more.”
Schedule time for fun.
Reserve some time — even if it’s just one Saturday a month — to do something you enjoy, like going to a movie or out on a date.
“Students shouldn’t approach school like they have to put their entire life on hold,” Boice-Pardee points out. “It’s important to maintain some balance in your life.”
If you learn to recognize stress, Boice-Pardee says, you can mitigate it. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by school, family and work, he suggests, pay attention to what your body is telling you.
“Ask yourself what you have done in the past that has helped you decrease stress, because it’s different for everyone,” he notes. “For some of us, it’s exercise, and others, it’s curling up for a half hour with a book and a cup of tea. Take a pause to schedule what you need into your life to help achieve your goals.”