How to Prepare For the New School Year: 8 Tips to Start the New Academic Year Strong
by Magdalena Styś, Press & Written Media Team
Are your class groupchats suddenly getting active again? Do you see big BACK TO SCHOOL SALE signs in front of supermarkets? Summer is slowly coming to an end and the new school year is already approaching, with all the good and the bad that it has to offer. Back-to-school season can come with feelings of anxiety and unreadiness; thankfully, there are some ways to ensure that you go back into student life with as much calm and ease as possible.
Rest a lot
Before even thinking about using all of the tips written down below, make sure you get enough rest. You’ve worked hard for ten months straight and survived! Congratulations! Before you get back into that cycle, you need to relax and recharge. Even if you’re spending your summer working or taking summer classes, try to find some time for yourself. You are not a productivity machine, so make sure to not treat yourself as one and get as much rest as you can.
Reflect on the past year
Think about the past two semesters, what you did well and what you could’ve done better at. Was there a subject you’ve struggled with? Did you find it hard to balance school and extracurricular activities? Or maybe you were performing great in both academics and extracurriculars, but you felt really burnt out or overwhelmed? Make a list of things you’d like to continue doing in the next academic year and a list of things you want to change or remove from your life completely.
Declutter your space
Ten months of non-stop academic work can result in many things: sometimes it’s a feeling of accomplishment, sometimes it’s burnout, in most cases it’s a giant mess in your desk drawers and laptop folders. Dealing with all the clutter remaining from the past school year will help you feel calm when you get back to studying after the summer. Check if your pens still have ink, get rid of any papers only taking up space in your desk, go through your files and delete anything that you don’t need anymore.
Now that you’ve gotten rid of all of your unnecessary things from the past year, it’s the perfect time to organize and plan out everything you need for school, whether it’s physical or digital. If you don’t have a calendar or planner, consider getting one; look into both traditional and digital options and pick whichever one will be the best for you. Stock up on any supplies you’ll need to take notes, like notebooks and pens; if you’re only taking digital notes, make sure all of your chargers are working and you have a digital notebook / folder for each class you’re taking next semester.
Get back on a sleep schedule
I don’t know about you, but whenever I go on a break from school, I completely destroy my circadian rhythm. Instead of going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning, I’ll start having a few naps at various points of the day or just sleep for 15 hours straight and get up only when necessary. If you’re experiencing a similar (hopefully less extreme!) shift in your sleep schedule over the summer, you should start adjusting to your regular sleep schedule again. Of course, you don’t have to adopt a full-on school year sleep schedule yet — you still have some time to rest, after all — but try to go to bed at a time that you’d usually go to bed at. Once you get used to that, set an alarm for the morning and practice waking up at the designated hour (again, it doesn’t have to be your usual wake-up time at first; you just need to get used to waking up in the morning again).
Set goals for the upcoming year
Is there a particular class you want to do exceptionally well in? Do you want to participate in an academic olympiad or join a club at your school? Maybe you want to focus on getting through the next school year without unnecessary stress? Now is the perfect time to think about what you want to achieve over the next ten months. Write down anything and everything you’d like to accomplish in the upcoming school year, in both academic and non-academic fields. When you’re done, break down your goals into smaller steps; it’ll help you ease yourself into the process of achieving your goals and make it less likely for you to burn out quickly.
Cater to your own needs
The secret to succeeding in school is knowing yourself and being aware of your own needs within the academic system. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard to navigate school responsibilities, especially if you struggle with learning disabilities, ADHD or any other factors that make it harder for you to thrive in the school environment. Before you get back to school, spend some time trying to find solutions to problems you have faced in previous semesters. Look online for advice and resources that can help you get through the academic year.
Take a look at what’s ahead
If you already know what your schedule is going to look like next semester, take some time to do some light preparation. If you’re taking a class that’s a continuation of one of your classes from last semester, make sure you remember what topics you’ve already covered and what you’re expected to know; take a brief look at your syllabus textbooks to at least get an idea of what the next semester is going to look like. Just remember to not overdo it — don’t start doing classwork or reading the entire textbook before you’ve even had the first lecture. After all, you’ll go over everything in class anyways and spending too much time preparing can make you more anxious instead of calming you down.
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