#BacktoSchool: Tips on How to Make this Your Best Semester Yet

Now that we've all finished our first week of classes at UNC, we're all probably thinking the same thing: I forgot how much time and energy I have to put into school and extracurricular. While not everyone's summer is fun and games (students take summer classes, work throughout the summer and have other responsibilities), life during the school year can be stressful, to say the least. Last semester was my busiest yet. I became the co-Campus Coordinator for this lovely chapter of Her Campus, along with Paige Pennebaker, and I had an internship where I came to the office daily. I was also in another leadership position for another student organization, and I was taking a full-schedule of classes. And through it all, I still managed to have fun, and these tips I'm sharing with you today are the reason why.

  1. 1. Don't Procrastinate On Your Work

    Easier said than done, right? Trust me, I've been there too, finishing up a final project just 20 minutes before the class. But all that last minute work will cause you stress. If you think you work better under pressure, fine, but don't wait so long that you are sacrificing your other needs, like sleep, hygiene, mental breaks and a social life for your academics. Having a good semester is all about finding a balance, which leads me to my next tip...

  2. 2. Make Regular Plans with Your Friends

    We all need some time to just hang out with our friends, whether that is to de-stress, have a good time or commiserate. As the semester ramps up, it'll be harder and harder to make plans with your friends. Everyone gets busier, and it's really easy to let your social life fall to the wayside as you keep up with your responisbilities. That's why you should make set, regular plans to see your friends often. My old roomate and I have weekly lunches to catch up, I go to Her Campus meetings every Tuesday and see my friends from there, and I see my work friends when I'm, well, working. But these plans don't have to be a serious time committment if you're seriously strapped for time. My roomate and I catch the same bus every Tuesday and Thursday going back to our apartment. Even though it's just 20 minutes, that time is relaxing and the perfect break between the school day and homework.

  3. 3. Put Your Mental Health First

    I'll be frank, I always struggle with this tip. In school, I was always that person who wanted to put 110 percent into my schoolwork. Anything less than perfect felt like a personal failure. That kind of pressure is dangerous though, espeically if you don't succeed in reaching the near-impossible standards you set for yourself. Instead of thinking your success is only measured by academic success, try and change your perspective. Are you content at the end of the day? What do you wish you did differently? Were you completely drained the day before, yet still pushed yourself for perfect attendance, even if you weren't comprehending anything? Bottom line, take care of yourself first. You will succeed academically if your body and mind are feeling well, so don't be afraid to sleep in and skip that eight a.m. if you need to, or don't feel bad if you only skimmed your reading assignment. Getting to the end and finishing the semester with passing grades is an achievement in itself; an even bigger one is feeling healthy while doing so.

  4. 4. Talk to Your Family and/or Loved Ones!

    Much like your social life, you might see your communication with your family and/or loved ones dwindle as the semester becomes more strenuous. However, your family/loved ones are the people who know you best, give great advice and are superb listeners. Last year, I made an active choice to call my mom at least every Friday, and I can't emphasize how much better those talks made me feel. The context ranged. Sometimes I was complaining about a class, asking her advice on roomate and living situations or even dicussing the latest Bachelor in Paradise episode with her. Whatever our talks were about, I came out of them feeling happy and loved. If there is someone in your life that does the same for you, make sure you keep in regular contact with them; it'll make both of your days better.

  5. 5. Be Spontaneous!

    Planning everything out on paper is great, but we all know life gets in the way. Maybe you have period cramps and aren't going to the gym as planned, or maybe you made plans with someone and they cancelled last minute. Whatever the case is, if you have free time, make the most out of it! Sometimes that's just relaxing in your pajamas and having a stress-free day full of self-care. For others, it's making the impromptu decision to go to Cat's Cradle, The Varsity, DPAC, etc. If planning every second of the day relaxes you, by all means, plan away! But don't be afraid to make split-second decisions every once in a while! Diverting from your usual schedule can make your day feel fresh and invigorate you. Plus, it's never a bad thing to explore our wonderful town.

And those are my five tips for making this semester your best yet! Don't be daunted by this new semester and responsibilities. Instead, make the most of it! Take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and have a great time. Just remember, not everyone's idea of a "good time" is the same, so try not to compare yourself to others. Do what feels right for you!