How to get your head back in the game
The holidays are over, which means it’s time once again to start thinking about textbooks.
Transitioning from vacation to study mode can be a stressful affair, requiring significant rearrangements to your daily schedule.
To make the process as painless as possible, Monica Boulos, a counsellor at Concordia’s Student Success Centre, has worked out three key strategies to help you get back into the academic swing of things.
While some students can jump back into the school year with both feet, others need more time to reacclimatize. If you fall under the second category, Boulos says the trick is to start easing yourself into student mode in advance.
“Begin thinking and acting like a student at least a couple of days before the start of the term. It will help you get in the right frame of mind and make the whole transition less daunting.”
She recommends a number of pre-term activities, such as double-checking whether you’re registered for the right courses, making notes of important university dates, reviewing and printing course schedules, checking for last-minute classroom changes and, if you have a study spot at home, making sure it’s clean and ready to receive you.
Find your balance
“It’s so tempting in those first weeks to slack off and fall behind, especially because winter vacation seems so short and there are no impending deadlines yet,” Boulos says, warning that while it’s easy to stay in a vacation state of mind, students often pay the price later on.
To avoid a midterm meltdown, it’s important to consistently maintain a healthy balance between school and socializing, she adds.
Get regular sleep, keep up with readings, cut down on Netflix and make time for hobbies and friends. The trick, Boulos says, is to pace yourself for a marathon, not a sprint.
“Going back to school doesn’t mean you have to give up having any fun — in fact, you shouldn’t,” she adds.
“Keeping a healthy balance between school work and leisure time is key to having a manageable and successful term, and that begins on day one.”
For some students, the thought of returning to school can bring on dread and anxiety, especially if last semester didn’t go so well.
“Your thoughts and feelings matter, and it’s totally natural to experience some apprehension about the new semester,” Boulos says.
“It’s important, however, not to let negative thinking lead the way into next term. Often these feelings cause avoidance and hinder students from tackling their responsibilities head-on.”
A more constructive approach is to reframe the way you take on challenges.
“Think about how rewarding it will be once you’ve plowed through that obstacle with a successful outcome. In many ways, university is preparation for life and its myriad ups and downs. You must learn to deal with challenges in order to reap the benefits and grow as a person.”
Boulos notes that one way to think constructively is to honestly re-examine past terms. Look at where things went wrong and make an intentional effort to do things differently moving forward.
“Adopt one or two key approaches a term to ensure a positive academic experience,” she advises.
“To begin, meet with a learning specialist at the Student Success Centre to develop more effective learning strategies.”
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