How to Prepare to Go Back to College Post-Summer
Having those endless summer days with absolutely no work to do is great until it comes to having to get back into the habit of working again.
So, summer is coming to an end. Depending on your university or college, or what degree you're doing, this could've been just about any length. I've been off for about three months now. And I've still got a month to go until classes actually start again. So, while I've still got a fair bit of time, you can never be too prepared. Here's how I'm going to be getting ready, and making sure I'm fully prepared for all the work to come, and just the general university lifestyle.
Figure out a budget
This might not apply to some lucky, lucky people, but for most of us this is hugely important. And I mean it. Budgeting will change your life if you let it, and who doesn't want some spare cash lying around to travel or treat yourself or just as a back up for when you finish uni? At the moment I'm saving up to be able to afford my master's and PhD, so budgeting is a big one for me.
If you're living off a maintenance loan, like me, then work out how you need to divide this. Take away whatever rent/bills you'll need for that quarter, and divide the rest up among the months to see how much you have to spend. I tend to limit myself to about £200 a month general spending, and put the rest of my loan that isn't going towards rent into a savings account. I've also opened a second bank account, separate from the one my loan goes into, and that rent comes out of, to put my spending money into for each month. So, on the first of the month I'll transfer £200 into my spending account, and won't let myself transfer any more until the next month (I also don't have an overdraft in that account, which greatly helps).
Beyond this, try to set out some rough numbers of how much you can spend in different areas (food, going out, travel, shopping, study/books, and gifts). I really like the app 'Fudget' to keep track of what I spend, because I've got to put each thing in individually, and it really keeps me aware of how much I'm actually spending.
Look at the reading list
This is a great habit to get into before the start of each semester. I know with most of my modules, the reading list is impossibly long, and I could never hope to read everything on it, but my tutors tend to highlight some of the key readings that will be used a lot throughout the semester. So it's good to at least have a look at these, and get an idea of what the module will be about, and get some basic knowledge so you're not going into it blind.
Buy/prepare your study supplies
I.e. any textbooks or materials recommended by your tutors, as well as any writing gear, notebooks, etc.
Decide how you'll be taking notes
This doesn't seem hugely important, but it is if you want to get off to a good start right from the beginning. Decide if you'll be taking your laptop or a notebook to class, and what app or note-taking method you'll be using, etc. Get it all sorted and set up in advance, and it'll make it a lot easier to stick to it, rather than just slipping into the habit of making rough, nonsense notes for the rest of the semester that are impossible to decipher when it comes to exams.
Read the module handbooks
Or at least the module specification on the university website, if the handbooks aren't available yet. Get an idea of what the module's about, who's teaching it, how you'll be assessed, and how you'll be learning. It'll make you feel less lost in the first lecture, and you'll be able to focus on the smaller details rather than the big things.
Get into a routine
This is really personalised, so whether it's working out daily, or sorting out a decent sleep schedule, or just making sure to get dressed and eat three meals, get into the routine you want to be in when you're at uni. Preparing yourself in this way before you start classes will make it easier to continue when you do have classes, because you're not overwhelmed by starting a new routine, AND starting classes all at once.
Organise your study space
If you have a desk, make sure it's clear and clutter-free, and ready to be used. Try to keep anything non-study related away from the desk, and keep it purely a space for studying. Maybe decorate with some nice motivational pictures or quotes, stick up your timetable, etc. Make it somewhere you can enjoy spending time, and won't make studying even worse than it already is.
I can't say that doing all this will guarantee you'll be getting consistent first classes, but it'll help in some way or another, even if it's just making the transition from lying around all day to working all day that little bit easier. Most importantly, make sure your mental health is in a place where you're able to study and work to the best of your ability. If it's not, find out what works best for you, and work towards getting yourself to that place. A degree is nothing if you've stretched yourself past the point of return by the end of it.