The phrase “back to school” inspires a plethora of feelings that blend anticipation, excitement and fear. A new school year promises a fresh start with different teachers and classes. However, getting ready for school can also be disorienting. One must create a distinctive routine, organize new materials and prepare for challenging classes ahead. In an effort to make this process less confusing and stressful, The Beat has put together a Back to School Survival Guide.
The first trick is to live by your planner. Though it sometimes seems like a hassle to take out your planner during each class, it can be a lifesaver when you begin your homework. You may find it beneficial to highlight long-term assignments so you’re never caught by surprise. Karyn Bartosic ’18 said, “Writing everything down in a planner is a great way for me to stay organized and on top of all my work in the midst of a busy Hopkins schedule.”
Color-coding can be valuable when organizing your supplies for the new year. If you make sure notebooks, binders and the color on your schedule are all the same for one class, grabbing your notebook when you run out the door becomes much easier. Color-coding can also be very helpful in your planner. Outline each of your classes in a different color so it’s obvious which classes you have each day and which homework is due. Samantha Dies ’18 said, “I find color coding is essential, especially when it comes to my planner. I can just glance down and see what I have to do in seconds without actually having to read anything.”
To do lists can be useful for students who are goal-oriented and prone to forgetting a few tasks amid their many responsibilities. Donasia Gray ’18 uses “Attack Plans” each night to stay on top of her work. She said, “I write on a piece of paper things I absolutely have to do and about how long they’ll take, while leaving in a chunk of free time for social media and Netflix. Then I write a list of things I’d like to do to get ahead if I have time. As I go along I cross off stuff from my Attack Plan and planner since it makes work a bit more fun, and each time I cross stuff off, I reward myself with some type of dessert.”
Time management is an important skill for all Hopkins students. With all our responsibilites, we have to be productive and on task with the time we do have. Karyn Bartosic ’18 said, “Because I participate in varsity sports and other extracurriculars after school, I try to make the most of my study halls and do assignments as early as possible.” Although it takes a significant amount of willpower, tackling homework on Friday nights will always make the weekend much less stressful.
Find a balance between being on task and hanging out with friends on campus. We all need a break, and spending that twenty minutes of free time with friends can sometimes be exactly what you need. However, don’t ignore that project that needs a few final touches before last period. Some students work efficiently at school and prefer to get homework done during the day while others function better at home; do what works better for you.
Many benefits come from joining study groups. Bouncing ideas off of one another enables students to gain different perspectives on the material. Donasia Gray ’18 said, “As classes progress, I always end up having at least one person whom I work well with, whom I can ask questions, meet with to study or make study guides with. In AC2, we had a class study guide, a group chat, and many Google Hangouts, which allowed us to learn what we didn’t understand in class from each other.”
Finding the ideal study spot often motivates students to get their work done. Dedicate a spot in your house solely for homework and studying. This spot should preferably be a desk, because we all know how easy it is to fall asleep while studying in bed. This desk should also be stocked with supplies to avoid wasting precious moments looking for a ruler or pencil. Jacob Wolfe ’18 stressed the necessity of a specific workspace, saying, “If you don’t pick the right one, you will get annoyed constantly by outside distractions.” Your phone, IPod or other gaming device should be situated far from any study space.
Everyone’s learning and organizational style is unique, so it may take a little while to find your perfect system. Go into this school year with a positive attitude and stay focused, but also enjoy your time on The Hill. Good luck!