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Hello kind krafters!
With summer coming to an end, and the craziness of school setting in, I have brought you the ultimate school survival guide. Please keep in mind; I am no expert when it comes to this whole school thing, I am always learning. I mean, students are meant to learn on the fly, and fake it until we make it, right? Making it up as I go, I decided to share my insights on how to survive school for yet another semester.
Whether you are new to school or have been plugging away at a degree for some time, let’s face it- school can be hectic. With endless deadlines, hundreds of pages to read, and the added pressure to be well rounded, it comes as no surprise that school can take a lot out of you. So how do you make it through to see the light at the end of the tunnel? You simply do your best. As cliché as that may sound, it is true. If you are giving your best efforts, you will succeed. It is important to remember that you are an individual and what works for you may not work for the next person and vice versa. This school survival guide has your back when it comes to managing your schoolwork, keeping up with your social life, and learning to love your home- wherever that may be.
School Specific Tips:
Tip: Calendars are a MUST! Organization is key for success!
With various classes happening simultaneously, it is always best to have a calendar with all your due dates recorded! I typically do this at the beginning of the semester, to make sure I don’t forget about any assignments, project, or tests. I usually colour co-ordinate my calendars so each class is represented in different coloured ink. Fun tip: mark your tests or exams in red so they stand out!
Calendars are also a great tool to document your work hours as well as your social commitments! I usually have an agenda that I keep in my backpack that is a weekly planner, and then a monthly calendar on my wall! I need all the reminders I can get.
Tip: Network! Take advantage of Professors’ office hours and get to know your TAs!
You can never network enough! Getting to know your professors as well as your teaching assistants is probably the best thing you can do in a learning environment! They are there to help you. Professors and teaching assistants love sharing their knowledge and want students to succeed. My university career really flourished once I started to build a professional relationship with my professors and TAs.
Professors and TAs can also do a lot for you! Whether you are applying for extra curricular positions, jobs, or further schooling- these connections can be the icing on the cake for any of your applications. A letter of recommendation from a professor or TA holds merit.
Professors and TAs can also be a great source to discover new opportunities on and off campus. Many are involved with research, extra curricular activities, etc. Building this connection may help you discover something you are passionate about and help you to get involved!
Tip: Ask for help! There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Being a student myself, I know how many questions can arise daily. My advice to you, is just ask the questions you have- don’t be shy. These questions can class material related, opportunity related, advising related, etc. In my first year of study I thought I was meant to have everything figured out and I shied away from asking the questions I needed answered. Please don’t do this, the answers don’t come out of thin air, and people are always willing to help.
When it comes to class material, try asking your questions to your professor or TA. If asking a question in front of 400 people isn’t your thing, professors are normally available to answer questions via e-mail or discussion boards.
Are you still hesitant to ask your prof? Don’t sweat it. Form a study group with some peers and ask them. Most of the time, you are not the only one thinking of that question. So ask away!
If you ask and you don’t get the answer you need, do not feel discouraged. Keep looking for it; try asking another professor in that faculty or an advisor, or maybe try e-mailing a professional in your field of study. The answer is there and you will find it.
Tip: Know your resources and know what you are paying for!
Many post secondary institutions have a number of resources available that are actually covered in your tuition and school fees! Things like writing centers, gym memberships, academic advising, transportation services, etc. Know what you are paying for. In my first year, I didn’t know there was all of these resources available and that I was in fact paying for them. I encourage you to find out what these resources are on your campus and to use them! If you are a fellow Dal Pal I have included the links for some of these resources around campus below.
5. Energy essentials: Sleep, eat, repeat.
In order to do well, you have to be well. What does this mean? Make sure you are well fed and getting your recommended hours of sleep. With pressing deadlines and busy schedules it is hard to justify spending 8-10 hours of your day sleeping- but trust me, this a priority. There are great benefits that come from getting your optimal hours of sleep: feeling rested, better overall mood, increase in ability to focus, knowledge retention, etc. As tempting as it is to pull all-nighters, or to stay up all night cramming for an exam you have the next day…. Don’t do it. Go home, get some food, and you got it- SLEEP! I was the worst for making sleep a priority in my early undergrad years. Since I have changed my sleeping schedule, I have noticed a dramatic increase in my daily energy levels, increase in my grades, and an increase in my overall mood. I am actually able to get many more things accomplished during the day when I am well rested.
Don’t forget to be well fed. Food can be expensive, and when it comes to a tight student budget, a night out on the town will often trump the healthy options on your grocery list! But what you put into your body is important, so if you are deciding between a healthy food haul or a night of drinking, I would recommend the healthy alternative. Food is your fuel and energy. This was a big learning curve in my university career. I learned how to shop healthy on a budget. Healthy eating does not have to be expensive. Simply draft up a menu for the week. My added tip would be to pick meals that use a lot of the same ingredients. This way you will not be wasting your food and it will save you from buying many different ingredients. Also! Making food like salads, soups, and pasta dishes can leave you with left overs that you can enjoy throughout the week!
Weekly Meal Planner template with grocery list: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/a4/64/0f/a4640fbf506cfe3f63dae5ebd9f8e738--weekly-meal-planner-template-meal-planning-templates.jpg
Social Specific Tips:
Tip: Surrounding yourself with positive people
Find your kind of people. Post secondary is a huge opportunity to meet new people. Do not limit yourself to one particular group of friends. And do not feel discouraged if the people you meet in residence or in your classes aren’t your people. Sometimes it can take time to meet the people you really click with. My best advice for social survival is to surround yourself with people that empower you. Be surrounded by people that make you want to be the best you that you can be. These are your people. These people will support you and be happy to be around the real you and that’s what matters most.
Tip: Learn your favourite social setting and try new places!
With post secondary education, comes new experiences. Learning your favourite social scene can be challenging but I encourage you to try them all! Anything that captivates your interest whether it is in your comfort zone or not… try it out! If you hate the club scene, stop going. Try a board game café or an artsy wine-tasting bar, or somewhere new. Do what you like, and if you find you keep ending up at a place that really is not your scene, stop going! It’s as easy as that. Fun tip: google fun things for students to do in your city. Here’s a link for the Halifax students to take a peek at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/broke-student-s-guide-to-fun-things-to-do-in-halifax-1.2750412
Tip: Recharge yourself: Making ‘Me’ time
As important as it is to be social with others, it is important to make sure you give yourself some ‘me’ time to make sure you can recuperate and check-in. Are you being the kind of person you want to be? Are you doing what is right for you? Are you happy? You time is just as important as the social time you spend with others! If you are living in residence or with roommates it can be challenging to find ‘me’ time. Try getting out of the house for a walk or joining a class by yourself to ensure you are getting that time.
Tip: Find a hobby or make time for your hobby
People are always telling you to join a club (I know I just did it above), and to get involved. Please keep in mind this doesn’t always have to be extravagant. I like to word it as find a hobby. You don’t have to join a painting class to paint. Whatever your hobby may be, make time for it and value it. Try and introduce your friends to your hobby or find others to hang out with that share the same hobby. This is a great way to integrate your social circle with the things you love doing.
Tip: It’s okay to say NO
Social situations can get overwhelming. If you are overwhelmed, always know that you can say no. You can say no to the activity, you can say no to attending, you can just say no. For some of us this can be hard, especially when we want to do the activity or event but we know we shouldn’t or are unable to at that time. We call that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Don’t let your FOMO get the best of you. There will always be a next time!
Meeting new people is hard and can sometimes make it hard to say no. However, if you are uncomfortable with whatever is happening stick with your gut and say no. When people are your true friends they will not pressure you or make you feel bad for saying no. Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to say NO.
Home Specific Tip: Making this your home away from home.
Many of us attending school will at some point live with roommates. Living with new people is definitely a learning experience. My advice to you about living with roomies is to make sure you enjoy the environment you are coming home to. Make sure your home is a safe space and that you enjoy spending time there. If for whatever reason it is not, understand that you are never stuck there. There are services available to help roommates on and off campus who need to change their living arrangements, so never feel stuck.
Some roomies stay together their whole school career and other part ways and find new roomies. I am lucky to have my roommates. These ladies are so awesome I couldn’t help but introduce them to you! They were kind enough to include their school survival tip that works for them!
Meet the Roomies!:
Program: Psych and Neuroscience
Fun facts: I work as a piano teacher and a photographer wahoooo! I am the oldest of five kids and I love them all very much.
School tip Syd lives by: Create a planner for yourself that you can keep in your backpack! It's so helpful to have somewhere to physically write down your schedule and your to-do lists
You can check out Syd’s photography here (do it.. she’s amazing!) https://www.sydneymaclennan.com
Program: Gender and Women’s Studies
Fun facts about Anna: I read the last page of every book before I read it and I'm a die-hard Friends fan!
School tip: Make time for the things and people you love!
Program: Social Work
Fun Facts: I’m a horrible dancer but I wear funky socks everyday! And I collect vinyl records.
Jill’s school tip: explore nature- try and get outside every week!
Program: Music and Sustainability
Two fun facts: I LOVE pickles, I spent two months travelling this summer!
School Tip Rachael lives by: schedule me time, just as much as school time
I am grateful to call these lovely ladies my roomies. So far they have been nothing but supportive and a joy to be around. We are excited to have a year jammed packed of new adventures and roommate activities! Follow us on social media to see some of our roommate activities in action! I have included some pictures of our vegan muffin baking that took place while we planned our laundry schedules! There is always a fun way to get chores done!
So remember, school is tough. No one is denying that. We are need to be here to support one another and to learn as best as we can. If you have any survival tips that work best for you please comment them down below!