College will start before you know it, so we put together some back to school hacks we recommend you use when preparing to go back to school. There are plenty of ways to make your return to college go as smoothly as possible, so take the time and plan ahead. Here are some back to school hacks and tips you should remember.
1) Pack Reasonably
A lot of first-time college students may not find the right balance between what is and is not necessary when packing their things. There are obvious things, like clothing, laptops, and other essential items. But you also want to be able to carry your personal and sentimental items with you. Packing is all about finding a right balance — you don’t want to be too overloaded with stuff that the trip becomes overly challenging, or unpacking becomes more than you can handle. So when you’re packing, think carefully about what you can manage to carry around with you for a bit, and what can wait to be brought after a return home or shipped through the mail.
2) Learn Your Classrooms’ Location
No one wants to wander around campus in a rush to find their class. Many students will find themselves waiting in class, only to realize it was the wrong classroom, and then being forced to quickly find the right place. This is a mistake that’s fairly easy to avoid, just as long as you have an a free hour before classes begin. Wander around your campus for a little bit, and give yourself the chance to get familiar with where you will be going. Knowing your campus can be so much more important for larger schools, where buildings can be pretty far apart or even spread throughout a city. Make sure you know where you’re going, and your first days at college will be all that much easier.
3) Calendarize Your Syllabus
Most professors should have a syllabus ready for you on your first day, if not already uploaded online long before you’re back to school. Use those opportunities to your advantage, and translate your syllabus to a calendar. Whether you use a physical copy or a calendar app, go with whatever helps you most and take the time to write down the important dates. School life can pass by surprisingly fast, and you never want to be unprepared for a major test or academic paper. It only takes a little bit of planning and you’ll find that you are well-prepared.
4) Commuting and Campus Time
A fair amount of students live off campus and have work outside their college life. If you’re one of these students, it can be really beneficial to learn your commute times and how long you have between classes. It might even help you to plan your schedule around when you are on campus or off, as you don’t want to wind up stuck at campus for hours without any plans. You can find a local friend to hang out with, take the time to study or do work, or find some other way to keep yourself busy. Ideally, you won’t have to wait too long, but sometimes the wait is unavoidable. Make sure you plan ahead, find whatever transportation you need, and use your time wisely.
5) School Supplies
Going back to school is much easier when you’re aware of what materials you need for classes. Most classes will require various textbooks and readings, so don’t wait too long to get them. You might find that bookstores are out of stock or have increased prices if you wait until the rush begins. Get whatever you can ahead of time, and buy materials appropriate for your classes. Art classes will typically require you to have the right pencils, erasers, and paper, while PE classes typically require workout clothes. It’s as simple as knowing your classes, and then you can prepare accordingly.
Whether you’re living in a dorm or off campus, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper sleeping supplies handy. There are plenty of mattress padding products to make stiff dorm beds soft and comfortable, all forms of pillows and blankets, and sheets designed for your bed size. Your bed is your haven in college, so you don’t want it to be uncomfortable and awkward. A lot of students might find themselves sleep deprived thanks to their newfound independence and freedom in schedule. Make sure you get plenty of sleep — not only because it is healthy, but because it’s better for your academic and social life. Your sleep is important, so don’t take it for granted and make sure you have the proper supplies.
When going back to school, many students might forget to take care of their laundry. For some, this may even be the first time they take care of laundry on their own. This isn’t anything to feel embarrassed about, but you do need to make sure you consistently do your laundry, including your bedding, towels, and whatever items are you might forget to wash. Make sure you have some laundry detergent and, if you need it, some change for washing machines. Don’t let your dirty laundry sit too long. Be sure to also set timers when you start your laundry machine, since you don’t want any stranger to get tired of waiting and do something to your laundry. It can be frustrating to wait for laundry machines to open up, so try to grab them during a less busy time.
For many students, this will also be the first time they need to feed themselves. Others might rely on school cafeterias. Either way, it’s important to watch what you eat for the sake of your health, and have a supply of personal ingredients stored up so you don’t find yourself running out at the worst possible times. It can be a huge inconvenience to need to go grocery shopping on the same day you have a big test. Have a nice variation of foods, including fruits and veggies, and don’t get carried away with junk food.
If your room is overpacked with your personal items, you might need to find storage to keep some of these things during your longer breaks. This can vary based on your rooming situation, but it’s always good to have a storage space prepared if you have valuables or too much stuff. This could be a local friend or family member, or even just renting out a storage unit. Some schools even offer storage themselves, so just be aware of your options and plan ahead.
10) Study Places
Whether you have a space in the library, your room, or a common area, it’s important to know where you can go to get studying done. Some people find that studying in the same place they sleep or have fun can be a challenge, and others might find certain locations have too many distractions. Know where you can go to maximize your own productivity, and even have a back up. Having multiple places can help you mix up a routine or adapt if your usual place isn’t working. Everyone needs certain standards to be met before they can be productive, so learn your own and find a place that provides you with what you need.
11) Know Your Resources
Colleges are filled with resource centers where workers are able to help you when you need it. This might be for academic struggling or personal issues, but there are always resources available to help you through those tough times. Talk with your professors so they understand your situation, communicate with your friends so they can be there for you, and just be aware of the community around you. There are tons of people at school who will be there to support you when you aren’t feeling your best, so don’t be afraid to lean on those around you.
12) Divide Work
It can be easy to fall into the trap that is procrastination. A lot of college students will find themselves studying late at night or even pulling an all-nighter just to do work that they probably could have done at an earlier time. If you find ways to do a little bit of work each day, you can avoid all that last-minute stress and not harm your sleep schedule. If you do a manageable amount of work every day, you’ll retain the important information more easily and not put yourself through any unnecessary pressure.
13) Set A Schedule
Going back to school after a relaxing break might find you unprepared for how fast things move. Arriving late to class is always unpleasant, and you definitely don’t want to miss any meals or whatever important deadlines you might have. To that end, use your phone to your advantage, and set alarms for the things that might slip through the cracks. Give yourself reminders for the important things so you stay on schedule.
14) Establish A Routine
It can be a challenge to motivate yourself to do important things, like studying, exercising, eating, or sleeping on time. When you find these issues are prevalent in your life, a helpful technique can be to establish a routine and make those challenges a part of your daily life. When things are normalized, your brain will push you to do those things. Just like brushing your teeth every morning, turn your work into a routine and you find life becomes much easier.
15) Keep Positive
Remember why you’re here (at school), and all the important things that are around you. Classes themselves might be a drag, but you have a community around you and your own goals you want to accomplish. If you stay enthusiastic, you can get through the toughest parts of school just fine.