Back to School Survival Guide
August 23, 2023

It’s that time of year again. As summer draws to a close, local department stores advertise with bright red apples, crisp notebooks, and sharp yellow pencils for back-to-school. Teachers send out long lists of supplies, and children dread the time they will become students once more. It’s a time that tastes crisp with excitement for the new fall season around the corner, but hangs heavy with the end of summer, marking the transition back to school with a great mix of feelings that can paralyze you. However, all it takes are a few adjustments and proactive plans, and navigating the chaos of back-to-school becomes simple. 

Establish a Routine Early

Many students shift their sleep schedules over break—stay awake into the wee hours and sleep in much later—so the shift to getting up early for school is quite jarring. One way to prepare is by easing back into a sleep schedule. Even on weekends, try to keep a consistent sleep schedule so your body doesn’t have to adjust drastically.   

Review and Set Goals 

For optimal academic success, it’s important for students to review the results from last year and pivot to adjust for the upcoming year. By reviewing their past results, you can then set goals to achieve the next year. Setting clear goals gives you a sense of purpose and direction, which can keep you motivated to do well. It’s also helpful to break your goals into bite-sized chunks to keep them more manageable. For instance, if you plan to achieve all A’s, then think about what miniature goals you need to prepare in order to achieve that.

Organize Your Space 

Establishing and maintaining an organized workspace is essential for productivity. Declutter your desk, arrange your supplies, and create designated spots for textbooks, notes, and homework. Color-coding for particular subjects can make keeping your supplies, notes, and assignments organized year-round much easier, too. An organized space helps ensure that you don’t forget assignments or homework, and helps keep stress at bay

Stock up on Supplies 

On that note, ensure that you have all the necessary supplies before school starts. Many teachers post a list that students will need for their class, but as a student, know which things keep you on track and motivated to do well, even if it’s something as simple as a specific brand of pencil. Make a list of items you need and get your shopping done before school starts and before the shelves look like a tornado flew through the store. 

Review and Refresh Skills 

Different subjects require different study techniques. You can’t study for an English test the same way you might study for science or math. Take some time to review and revise your study strategies—if something last year didn’t seem to work, now is a good time to reevaluate and formulate a different strategy. Experiment with techniques such as active recall, summarization, flashcards, and mind maps. You might feel a bit like Goldilocks, but this will help you succeed not just in the upcoming year, but in future years. And, if you feel overwhelmed by all the different strategies, consider seeking out tutoring early! 

Connect with Peers and Teachers 

Establishing connections with both peers and teachers can ease some of those new year nerves. Attend orientation sessions or meet-and-greet events. Sign up for organizations and clubs to not only hone you into a well-rounded student, but to meet other classmates. These connections help foster a sense of belonging, which keep students motivated to do well throughout the school year.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset 

Approach the school year with the belief that you can develop your abilities through effort and perseverance. Many people falsely believe that without raw talent, they will simply fail at the things in which they are not as skilled. However, a growth mindset embraces failures and challenges as opportunities to learn and improve. Sure, you might not understand your math class yet, but with the right tools and enough motivation, you can not only understand it but excel at it. Embracing this mindset fosters a healthier lifestyle that can ultimately lead to greater achievements.

While it’s easy to dread the chaos of back-to-school season, shifting your focus to embracing the fresh start it offers can make it so much more exciting and fulfilling. By implementing some adjustments and planning ahead, you can lay the foundation for a successful school year. Approach the school year with an open mind and a willingness to embrace both the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead, and you will no doubt discover how easily you can navigate this transition.   

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