By Taylor Jevning
Every time a new school year comes around, I see myself and my classmates filled with a combination of emotions ranging from stress and anxiety to optimism and motivation for the upcoming year. Getting back into the swing of assignments, deadlines, and tests is no easy feat, but looking back on the semester when it is over is a reminder that not only are we capable of finishing the huge amount of work that lies ahead of us, but we are capable of doing it well. There is no better feeling than getting your grades back and feeling a sense of accomplishment. As I go into my last year of university, I thought my first article of the year should involve sharing with the incoming first years (or anyone else who needs the advice) what I have learned through my experience of being a university student these last few years.
My first piece of advice is to tap into that initial feeling of motivation and utilize it before it fades away. Take the first week of school to check the syllabus and put all of your assignments down into either the calendar on your phone or an agenda. I learned the hard way in my first year that the professors in university will never mention due dates to you, so the first weeks of school are a great opportunity to check out which weeks are going to be the most stressful during the semester. This will give you some idea of how to spread out your workload so that throughout the year, you don’t get bogged down by too many assignments being due at the same time. Planning efficiently is one of the simplest ways you can ensure success this semester.
Secondly, make an effort to actually finish your assignments before they’re due. The best time to take your notes, do those small assignments, and finish all your minor homework is now–before you have to shift your focus on essays, projects, and presentations. During one of my philosophy classes, I neglected to do the small one-page assignments that were due throughout the year, and they all built up until the end of the semester when I had too many major assignments to actually complete the smaller ones. Altogether, they were worth fifteen percent of my grade, and while that may not seem like much, the few assignments I got zeroed on added up and made the difference between a 3.7 and a 4.0. If I would’ve completed them sooner, not only would I have understood the course material better due to the prior knowledge, but I would’ve been able to significantly increase my grade. This holds true for many classes. Procrastination is one habit that I’ve struggled to kill during my university career, but by harnessing that beginning-of-semester boost of energy, you should be able to make the semester less stressful by a long shot.
My last piece of advice was something that took me until my last year to figure out. University may seem like it takes forever, but as I enter my final year, I can’t help but wish I had a little more time to focus on my friendships and enjoy myself. Time goes too quickly to spend all of your time stressing about assignments and class. One of the biggest things that helped me succeed was focusing a lot of my time into building good, strong friendships and having fun. Going to Concordia events, making plans with friends on the weekend, and hanging out between classes is a great way to improve your university experience, to keep your happiness and mental health a priority, and to make sure you have a good support system in place during the hard times. University is stressful, especially if you are an athlete, have a job, or do other extracurricular activities. There is always time for friendship, and if I’ve learned anything from my incredible group of friends, I wouldn’t be able to do this without them.
Regardless of what advice I give, we all have our struggles and successes to look forward to in the upcoming year. One thing we can all look forward to is the awesome environment Concordia provides to make friends, get our work done, and hopefully make it through this school year in one piece. I’m officially starting to look forward to the nerves that come from the first week of school for what’s likely to be the last time in my life (thank the Lord), and I hope you all feel the same. Make sure to pay attention to your assignments and speak to your teachers about their expectations of you for this year. Your relationship with your teacher and your ability to be accountable can make or break your year. Start your coursework early and give yourself a break to clear your head for those essays that are coming far too soon. Don’t forget about your friends and keep your head on straight, because if I’ve learned anything from being here for over three years now, you can’t be all about school all the time. Finding that balance between school, work, and friendship is difficult, but by setting boundaries early, you can easily get started on the right foot.
Lastly, I’m looking forward to getting back to school and getting to go through this next school year with all of you by my side. I wish you all the best of luck this year, and if you need a familiar face or someone to talk to, I live at the school, so drop by and say hi!