We all know the stress of going into your first week of classes and being completely overwhelmed by due dates that haven’t happened yet, papers that don’t even have an outline and group projects that might have you working with some random stranger from Kentucky. Yet, there is hope! Along with that infamous term we all know as “syllabus shock,” there are ways to conquer your school stresses.
I’ve put together a list of some tips that I’ve used during my own time at college, and I hope they give some help and hope to you as well.
- Don’t look at your whole syllabus right away.
I know it’s tempting to flick through all the pages and see what specific assignments (or various versions of doom, your choice…) are in store for you, but don’t do it. Try to only focus on the points your professor specifically addresses, like certain due dates and requirements fast approaching. Avoid the entirety of what’s required until later, when you have a clearer state of mind. Looking through everything at once will only freak you out and send your brain into overdrive, rather than compartmentalizing assignments one at a time. So, save the full syllabus look-through for further down the road.
- Write things in a planner/calendar.
As “archaic” and “grandma-ish” as that might sound, it helps so much to visualize assignments and see what’s due when. Try to stick to the important items in your to-do list, like tests and projects. Use different colored pens to label different classes so it’s not a jumbled mess of black or blue ink, and you don’t remember what assignment was for which class. Also, putting things in a calendar helps you to realize, “Oh, wow. November isn’t as far away as I thought…”
- Realize everyone is on the same Struggle Bus as you.
You’re not the only person freaked out. Chances are, 9/10 of the people in your classroom have the exact same thoughts going through their head of how they’re going to stay afloat during the semester. You’re not alone, and you can lean on each other for motivation to keep going when things get a little sticky.
- Figure out that thing called “time management.”
Unfortunately, you can’t do everything. Bummer, right? You have to prioritize your time. When you have all of your syllabi collected, figure out what you need to do to keep on track. Set reminders. Write things down. Realize that time management doesn’t mean saying “no” to every fun activity; it just means balancing your social life with your educational life. Both are important and need to be treated as such.
- Just. Breathe.
Yes. I know you’ve heard it before a million times, but it’s true. Drink some tea. Take a bath (or a really long shower). Do something fun with friends. Just realize that it’s going to be okay, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Syllabi in their multitude seem daunting, but when you relax and break things down into smaller pieces, suddenly the stress starts to fizzle out. Keep telling yourself, “I can do this.” Because you can.