Surviving the First Week of College

College Life with EmmaGrace Miniseries: Part 2!

Now that you’ve made it to the first week of classes(maybe you’re a little farther in than that), how do you feel? For me, I have done a lot of introductory work and I haven’t been too stressed out about my workload… YET. I’m sure I will be in the future, but for now I wanted to give you an idea on how to handle the first week of classes, so YOU won’t have to worry about stress. My goal is for you to read this post and feel way more prepared to take on the first week of classes!

#1. Give yourself a few extra minutes to walk to class

If you read my last blog post, titled “What to Do Before the First Day of College”, you remember how I recommended walking around campus to each classroom at least once. And if you haven’t read my last post yet, you can read it here! Even if you think you know the campus really well, leave yourself a few extra minutes to get there for at least the first week. You never know if you will have a makeup malfunction before you leave the dorm, get stuck talking to a friend, or lose your way. Worst case scenario, you show up to class a few minutes early, which is much better than a few minutes late. For morning classes, I would recommend getting up a few minutes earlier than you were planning. So if you plan on getting up at 8:10 for an 8:30 class, maybe get up at 8. This allows you to have a few minutes to breathe and wake up before class starts.

#2. Write down ALL assignments

On the first day of class (or maybe even before), you will probably get a syllabus from all of your teachers, which should have all your major assignments on it. These can range anywhere from quizzes to tests to papers. You will want to make sure you have all of these written down in a monthly AND weekly part of your planner. College professors don’t always remind you when you have something to do or when there will be a test, which makes it so important that you have all the dates written down somewhere. You can even create an assignment log in your bullet journal. I will talk more about the spread in a later post, but below I’ve attached a picture of my August and September assignment logs (before I filled them out). You can highlight each class a different color, or highlight based on what type of assignment it is. Whatever way you choose to organize your assignments, it must make sense to you so you will know far in advance when you have something due. If you do not get a syllabus with the dates of all your assignments, make sure you write them down as soon as a teacher announces anything. You will want to start big assignments as soon as possible because they usually take more time than expected For example, a paper might take you more than a few weeks to write, and you should probably start studying for tests at least a week prior.

August and September assignment logs

#3. Go to all the campus activities you can

In the first week, there will be a lot of activities for you to participate in, such as involvement fairs and outside festicals. For me, there were a lot of activities within my hall and a few involvement fairs. Truth be told, with Coronavirus and social distancing/masks, it is even harder to make friends than in past years. Howver, I know colleges are giving their best efforts to make sure you still get a great college experience with great events. While it is so hard to socialize right now, you still need to make the best effort to appreciate the opportunities colleges are giving you to meet new people and do new things. Sometimes you will really not want to go, and that IS totally okay. I don’t want to make it seem like you have to go to any and every event possible. However, if you can make it to just a few things your first week(and beyond), you will most likely find something you want to be involved in. For example, you might make a friend at an outdoor event ora really interesting club at a fair. And yes, it is possible that some of the activities will be a complete bore, but you can just go home after and choose not to attend the same event again.

#4. Make your bed and do a “ten minute tidy”

Every morning, make your bed as SOON as you get up. William McCraven, a retired Navy Admiral Seal, once said, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.” I talked about this (and the ten minute tidy) in my post “This Storm.” Making your bed will make you more productive throughout the day, and if you do it right when you wake up, you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. Furthermore, a ten minute tidy is something I do once a day to maintain the cleanliness of my room. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a quick room clean up that takes no more than ten minutes. I just make sure all my notebooks are put away, my clothes are in the laundry, etc. It doesn’t take long and will keep your room from looking like a complete disaster. If you don’t clean your room until it is just a tornado, you will be so overwhelmed. The ten minute tidy will keep you from ever having to feel this way. Also, I would suggest doing a thorough cleaning once a week (I like to do it on Sundays), which includes a little dusting, maybe a quick vaccum if you have one, etc.

#5. Take some self care time

At least once a day, allow yourself at least 10-15 minutes to do something you want to do. During this time, don’t think about anything else; just be in the moment. You can do anything from reading a book to journaling to just sitting by yourself. I know it is hard to find any spare time in college because you always have so much work, events, etc. However, you will stay so much less stressed if you can find just a little bit of time every day to set everything aside and only think about you. If you can wake up fifteen minutes early and do this, that’s great. Otherwise, you can just plan a little bit of time day by day. I would also suggest taking a day or two every week to do a larger self-care activity, such as getting your nails done or doing a craft. This could even be taking a nap. I have a friend who doesn’t do any homework on Wednesdays and makes this her self care day. If you can do that, that’s amazing, but for me personally, it is hard to take a whole day without work. This is why I like to break it up day by day and plan a larger activity for myself on the weekends. If you need some help coming up with self care activities, there is a list below

Self Care Tips

  • Meditate
  • Do your nails
  • Get your hair done
  • Read
  • Nap
  • Write ten things you love
  • Get a massage
  • Do your makeup
  • Go outside and take in the scenery
  • Stretch/yoga
  • Drink some water
  • Write down your favorite quotes
  • Exercise
  • Practice breathing
  • Journal
  • Blog
  • Vision board
  • Write down what you’re grateful for
  • Take a nice drive
  • Light a candle/essential oils
  • Get some coffee
  • Do a good deed
  • Try something new
  • Give a loved one a call

#6. Plan out your goals each day

Whether you have a weekly, daily, or hourly planner(or all three), or just make a checklist at the beginning of every day, make sure you prioritize your goals. The first goal can always be making your bed, which means you will ALWAYS accomplish the first goal of the day. From there, I would suggest doing one task in your room every day, which I will include a list of ideas below. A good idea would be to plan out what homework you want to get done that day, or what parts of assignments. Maybe you want to get your essay introduction done or finish studying vocabulary for Spanish. Either way, set SPECIFIC goals that are realistic for that day. For example, you may want to cover one chapter of biology and one lesson in chemistry, but it is probably not realistic to try to read and take notes on five chapters in one day. If you have all your assignments in your planner, like I suggested before, you will always know what’s coming and never have to read five chapters in one day. I would suggest making your to-do list at the beginning of the day, or the night before, then adding to it as you go to class and get more homework. Also, when I get a homework assignment, I always write the day it is due and add it to my to-do lists until that day. Then, I know I should be working on it at least a little bit until the due date. If I finish before then, I can just cross that task off!

Daily task Ideas

  • Laundry
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Clean out fridge
  • Trash/recycling
  • Bathroom cleanup (may split this with many people, or there may be people that come do it)
  • Dishes (>once/week)
  • Disinfect surfaces (>once/week)

#7. Give a call back home

Let’s face it: being away from home this long can really suck. As much as you are homesick, your family probably misses you just as much. Give a call back home to your mom, who will want to know what you’re doing to keep busy, or to your boyfriend, just to tell him that you love him. A call to your family back home will mean so much to them, and it will also be a little reminder that people are here for you. You may be apart in distance, but your family and friends back home love you just as much as they did before. Anytime you need a little support, give them a call, and they can let you know everything will be okay. Yes, there are people that would argue talking to your family too much will cause more issues, and make you more homesick. Truthfully, I think it is about who you are and how close you are with your family. Calling your parents six times a day may be a little excessive, I don’t think a check-in call once a day is too much. Again, it’s all personal preference. For me, a quick call to my mom or boyfriend once every day or two is a reminder of the support and love I will always have back home.

2 thoughts on “Surviving the First Week of College

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