As you all know, I took the initiative to go back to school this past summer conquering all the trials, tribulations and set backs that caused me to leave in the first place. This has been a long term goal as college has been a part of my plans since grade school. I must say that I have been doing pretty well for being out for almost two years prior. My grades have been great and although I am working, and taking care of the same personal expenses as I was before, somehow I have gained a newfound peace of mind. I’m glad to say I am no longer feeling the spiraling pressure of being Superwoman. However, it hasn’t always been sugar, spice and everything nice and I wish I had some honest and realistic advice back then. Here I have some tips for those who are attending school with financial responsibility, minimal moral support and not much of a steady plan due to lack of concrete information.
Tips on being a successful college student with adult responsibilities:
- Put it in your mind that you only have 1 semester to figure out what you want to major in if you don’t already know. If you are going to school full-time your prerequisite courses will be the basic English, Math, and other courses (see advisor). This will buy you a few months to decide what you want to be when you grow up.
- Choose a major broad enough that will more than likely land you employment post graduation if worst case scenario you are not in your field of choice. You can always work towards your ultimate goal, you have your entire life to try out different companies, industries and career paths. There is nothing worst than being stuck with a degree in a specific industry, potentially not finding employment in that industry and no other industry will hire you due to your very specific degree.
- Prioritize your time, you don’t have to engulf yourself in your academics but realize that your number one goal is school. If you have a job, DO NOT just build your availability on the days that you have class. You are not a robot and you need time to study. If you can only afford to take off a certain amount of days try scheduling them on the days that you don’t have class. Schedule your class first thing in the morning or whatever time of day that you are most alert and make work secondary those days. Doing this, your two or so days off can be dedicated to studying. Use a calendar, planner and write everything down. Yes you are student first but work is definitely a priority as well and if you have adult responsibilities, you do not want to lose that opportunity for something as simple as mistaking the time your were scheduled to go in to work.
- Use your time efficiently. Plan the grades that you want, what your ultimate goal is (Graduate School, Law School, Medical School, etc.) and the amount of time you are willing to put in to achieve that goal. The more time that you put in, the better grades you will get, and the better your chances of reaching your end goal.
- Pick your resources and stick with it. Some professors opt-out of using the required text and choose to use other materials. If that is the case SAVE YOUR MONEY and ditch the textbook. Use the resources that your professor provides you with, the library and the great World Wide Web.
- Control your distractions. There is nothing that makes me kick myself more than indulging in my television shows or other nonsense when I could have used that half hour to go over my notes. Think about it 30 minutes watching your favorite show or going over your notes, after the show you’ll find out what happens in the end after reading your notes you’ll be more prepared for your next class. What is more beneficial in terms of your end goal?
- Create a plan. For example, if there is an exam in the following week, start studying a week prior to the exam with a plan of something to get through each day and stick with that plan until your exam.
- Review/Prep. The current semester is over and you have a few days off before the next semester. If you are diligent, you would have already registered and secured your seat for next semester. Go over some of the concepts that you will receive in your future courses. It will not only prepare for the next semester but it will put your mind at ease to know that you are somewhat ahead of the game.
- Take a class or two during winter and summer semesters if they are offered. You can knock out some easy courses in 3-7 weeks which is only a portion of the full semester and you will graduate earlier than anticipated. You will have plenty of time to party/vacate when you graduate and enough money to do it!
- Use your job to provide as much financial cushion as you are able. The term paycheck to paycheck has a new meaning which is letting your paychecks meet each other when you don’t need anything. After you take care of the necessities save the rest for a rainy day and only tap into it when you need to. For example, a co-pay at the doctor’s.
- Lastly, give yourself enough time to do something you like to clear your mind right before an exam. For example, take a short trip to the gym, a kickboxing, or a yoga class.
I hope these tips help you as much as I think they would have helped me. These are the things that are getting me through college seamlessly and feel free to do what works for you as well. Of course if you have any tips of your own you can leave me and my readers a comment! And we’ll talk again soon!