Like many World Campus students, I took the summer off to focus on family, work, and other activities. Three months is a long time to not be taking classes; it is certainly enough time to forget scholastic things and ‘get out’ of the school-year disciplines and routines. For me, my whole schedule has changed and I am certain that returning to school will also mean re-prioritizing, re-organizing, and re-adjusting my actions and thinking. In order to reduce stress and chaos the first day back, I have listed a few tips and reminders below:
Get organized ASAP. As I have stated in other blog posts, I strongly suggest buying or utilizing your weekly/monthly planner. Most teachers will post the class schedule at least a few days before the semester begins; for those that do, figure out when will be the best time to get your work done on time and schedule it into your planner. I also suggest ordering textbooks as soon as possible; that way, you can leaf through the book and better understand what is expected of you before classes even begin.
Buy school supplies. I realize we are no longer in middle school—we aren’t even physically showing up to class. However, using journal notebooks, folders, binders, post-it notes, etc. can greatly increase one’s ability to focus on each individual class, to study, and to get good grades. Post-its are especially useful to me in reference to textbooks—since I sell my textbooks at the end of the semester, I use post-its to mark pages and passages rather than highlighters and pencils.
Prioritize. Summer, for most, is a time where other things take precedence. You may discover a new passion, join a new group or activity, or start a new job. Returning to school does not imply that you must give up such things. It simply means we need to be flexible and prioritize. Utilize family and friends, communicate with your employer or group leader, look for ways to fit everything that is important to you into your schedule…without sacrificing your health or sanity! Here’s a personal example: this summer, I started my own photography business. The thought of building clients and business while juggling family and other responsibilities is daunting—adding schoolwork to that is even more intimidating. However, I believe that if we make small sacrifices in some areas, work hard enough, and stay positive, we can do whatever we want. I may have to put school before photography at times, but I will not have to choose one or the other.
And, finally, DON’T WORRY. I am blessed to say that my husband is returning to school after a 6-year hiatus. Yesterday, after attending orientation and registering for classes, he began to immediately express fear and doubt. He is worried that he cannot juggle all this activities and responsibilities. He worries he will not be able to maintain a good GPA and he is scared of taking online classes for the first time—can be self-disciplined and focused enough? As a third year student at World Campus, I strongly suggest that we all keep a positive attitude, take one day at a time, and take action rather than worry. If the first few days back are overwhelming, figure out what you need to do to make things better rather than give up. If you cannot juggle all your responsibilities, make adjustments and ask for help—from teachers, friends, co-workers and family. You’d be surprised to see how many are willing to help in this journey! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious, take a break: watch a funny movie or your favorite show, take a walk, go out with a friend, or take a relaxing bubble bath. Being in school should be rewarding, not depressing; so, just breathe.
Good luck and welcome back, Penn Staters!