Your first year of college can be rough, stressful, & a little overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you survive your first semester & year of college. It gets easier as you go, but if you get some bad habits, they will be hard to break. I am a junior in college & sometimes struggle with balancing my social life, classes, clubs, sports, work & me time. I am hoping my tips & tricks will help you out!
I want to tell you a little background info on me so you understand that no matter how busy you are, you still need to find some kind of balance for yourself. I am a music education major with a concentration in instrumental & vocal music. I am in two choirs, two band ensembles, I hold three leadership positions in the marching band, I am the event coordinator for my school’s chapter of HerCampus, I am in NAfME (National association for future music educator) and am always taking a full course load with my music classes often counting as zero credit. In addition to these extra curricular acitvities, I have a job some semesters along with observation hours in schools for my major. For my major. I should practice two hours daily for each instrument which can add up fast (sometimes it’s 6-12 hours a day in theory). I tell you that if I can find a balance, so can you! Sometimes it’s not always easy & things might have to give a little, but it’s not impossible to keep yourself balanced & avoid burning out.
I live by a kind of code that helps me balance everything out. I have 13 rules that help me stay balanced mentally, emotionally, spiritually & physically. I hope they can give you inspiration to make your own or feel free to use mine listed below:
1. Be Prepared to Feel Overwhelmed
Sometimes it’s okay to be overwhelmed, but you don’t always have to be that way. Get to know on campus what & where the resources are to help you. The resources can be family, friends, teachers or an advisor maybe something like a resource center or a student success center. The biggest thing you need to know is that you are not the only one feeling overwhelmed we all feel that way sometimes. I also can take a guess with schools coming back & Covid-19 there will be a little more stress going around.
2. Don’t Procrastinate & Get Ahead when Possible
In high school, you might have been able get away with doing something at the last minute & got a good grade, but in college it’s a little different. Create deadlines & keep with them. It’s also a good idea that if you have some free time or you finished something early to work on something else so it’s one less thing to focus on later & one less thing you could procrastinate on.
3. Find your Place
When I say this, I mean a place you can study or be alone. I know on my campus we have a few places I like to go. When I want to study, I actually prefer the music house, practice room, or the music building. This is even when I don’t have music stuff to work on. I want to study in a place that is comfortable and feels like I have control over it. For you that might be the library, your dorm, a classroom,etc. When I want to be alone I prefer the grotto on our campus or the bench next to the church or even the park nearby depending on the time. I just want a place I can go think or rest and have time to myself w/out being stressed or overwhelmed.
4. Ask for Help
It’s okay to need help sometimes you just need to know when to take a break or know who to go to for help. Places that can help are the student success center & resource center. People that can help are teachers, friends & family.
5. Make Time for Yourself
This is meant to be alone time just you with no one else. This time can be spent doing yoga, meditation, coloring, music, working out, journaling or even watching TV. Do whatever makes you happy & brings to you a calm state of mind.
6. Create a Routine
This is very important! You need to create a pattern that will make your schedule consistent and easy to follow. It’s okay to change it up once & awhile or be flexible to change but don’t be constantly changing what you do.
7. Get Enough Sleep
That means get 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Be consistent & get the sleep your body needs. If you are feeling tired & have enough time try to get a nap in. You need to sleep to help your body function otherwise you will burn out.
8. Use a Planner
To help you keep your life on track to avoid procrastinating, to forget anything & keep your life in order. In your planner write down homework, due dates, plans with others, school projects, work schedule or class schedule, club meetings/events, sport practices/games, & anything else that is important to you.
9. Be Active
Try to get a work out in or go for a walk once in a while to keep yourself in shape & it’s something you can do with others. You don’t need to work out everyday but maybe once a week or so.
10. Don’t Waste Good
What I mean by this is don’t go beating yourself up for a bad grade if you get one once in a while and you tried hard. Everyone has a rough day where things don’t always go as planned so take a breath & relax all will be okay.
11. Spend Time With Friends
You need time to take a break from school & socialize with other human beings to just go have fun. You don’t need to make this a daily activity, but it should be something you do weekly. It is important to go out w/ others and be yourself without all the school work otherwise you won’t be balanced. Friends get you to have fun and relax which is needed from time to time just be responsible & don’t do anything stupid.
12. Try New Things
It is important that once & awhile you take a risk to try something new. I don’t mean anything crazy, maybe it’s something small like a new food or drink you’ve never had. You can try out a new hobby or something one of your friends like if you don’t know what to try exactly.
13. Have a Hobby
This should be something unrelated to your major, clubs, sports or classes. It can be something small that you can do once & a while.