Back At School? Six Things You Can Do This Month to Make the School Year Easier
If last year wasn’t exactly the peak of your academic career, don’t worry—you’re now entering a brand-new school year, with a new chance to succeed. You can improve your chances for success this year—and make the school year much easier—by taking some time to do some simple preparations at the beginning of the school year. Here are a few things you can do to make your life easier this year—and improve your academic performance.
Last year, “All-Nighter” was your middle name. This year, it’ll be different—because no matter what you say, nobody works better without sleep. Develop a system for managing your time—one you can stick to, whether that means a stack of sticky notes, a nice day planner, or a new iPhone calendar app. It’s fine to try different methods before finding one that works—and if you tried this last year and failed after three weeks, try a different method of managing your time this year.
Earning a degree isn’t supposed to be easy. But there are a few things you can do to make things easier on yourself.
The more demanding your studies become, the more important it is to plan ahead. If you know you’ll have a big research paper due at the end of the semester, mark on your calendar when you’ll start working on it—and give yourself plenty of time. If you need motivation, just think about how jealous your friends will be when you’re kicking back and watching Friends reruns while they try to cram two weeks’ worth of work into one night.
How many extracurricular activities and responsibilities can you really manage? What should take priority for you—your campus job, or the extracurricular group you started? Do you have time to do everything—and still get to relax and have some down time occasionally? Bear in mind that if you don’t have some time in your schedule to relax, you could get burned out—and that could affect your grades.
If overcommitment is a problem for you, make a commitment to say “no” this year. Whether you’re an online or traditional student, extra responsibilities and stress could cause havoc with your grades—so take a realistic look at what you can and can’t accomplish, and trim your schedule if necessary.
Check out the new apps
Many colleges—both traditional and online—have created new mobile apps that are designed to make studying easier. For example, Western Governors University, a non-profit online school, is currently developing an app that allows students to access course content on their mobile devices. And the University of Phoenix has recently launched an app that lets students access online discussions, assignments, and threads as well as course content—plus, students get an alert in real time whenever grades are posted.
Check with your school to see if they’re releasing any apps for mobile devices. The new technology could make your life easier—and studying more productive.
Make a budget
Time management isn’t the only thing that can cause stress at school. Money difficulties can also interfere with your education. If this is a problem for you, this is the year to get a handle on your finances. Start by assessing your spending—write down everything you spend money on for one month. Then take a look and see where you might be spending too much—and where you need to budget more or less than you thought.
Check in on your financial aid situation
Tuition goes up every year—and your financial aid situation could change from year to year. Be sure to stop by your financial aid office to make sure everything is in order and you won’t get any nasty surprises during the school year. Be sure you understand whether there are any special terms, such as GPA requirements, for certain scholarships and loans. And be sure to fill out your FAFSA on time—you could be eligible for more financial aid this year than you were last year.
Earning a degree isn’t supposed to be easy. But there are a few things you can do to make things easier on yourself. Make sure you never have to pull another all-nighter—take a realistic look at your academic and extracurricular commitments, and schedule the start times for major projects ahead of time. Assess whether or not you’ll need to change your extracurricular schedule—whether that means trimming a few activities or getting a campus job. And come to school armed with a better sense of your finances and financial aid situation [http://www.distance-education.org/Articles/Think-You-Know-About-Financial-Aid--Think-Again-408.html]. Whether you’re enrolled in an online or traditional school, these tips will help you make the school year easier—and improve your academic situation.
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