Switching your focus from work, friends, and entertainment to school can be a difficult thing to do, but over 24,000 of us will have to attempt it at the end of this month. There is no right way to do this, but in the end, it is a pass/fail course. Here are a few pointers:
1. Practice. Rehearse flipping the school switch on and off. Today, instead of watching television or hiking, pick up your textbooks and pay your fees. Then flip the switch back off, and enjoy the rest of your day. The more you try this, the easier it will become to make the big switch.
2. Sublimate. It can be daunting to change your carefree lifestyle of three months back to a structured and stressful school-week. Take that anxiety (or fear or anger) and bury it under a mountain of busywork. Clean your apartment, bake lasagna, write for a newspaper, do whatever it takes to get your mind off of your impending homework.
3. Smile. Find the good things about a new school year. You’ll meet new and interesting people in your classes, you’ll learn new things, and you’re sure to fit some fun in there somewhere. If necessary, enroll in an elective class that you know you’ll enjoy, making your schedule seem less terrifying.
4. Fill your backpack with kitschy school supplies like it’s the first day of kindergarten, because it’s just more pleasant to write notes on paper with a watermark of Michael Phelps or David Bowie.
5. Keep track of time. Once school starts, put a calendar on your wall, marking days that will act as the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, as school days go by, mark them off with a big satisfying red “X.” As is mentioned in this week’s article “A Nonrenewable Resource,” keeping track of the passage of time can make any stressful experience seem like it will, in fact, have an end.
6. Think of yourself as lucky. Unless you’re going into teaching, these will be some of the last summers you have. After graduation, your work schedule most likely won’t blink an eye when May turns to June. Be glad you still had these last three months to yourself.
7. Overcompensate. If you are reading this paper hot off the presses, you still have two days of summer. In these next 48 hours, stock up on things to regret later. Stay up late, get into trouble, or spend hours just eating or talking. Act out while you still can.
8. Plan ways to make your soon-to-be routine more bearable. Add “in bed” to the end of every sentence a boring professor utters. Make grades a competition with your peers (but only if you’re favored to win). If you prepare for these things now, they will be easier to incorporate into the grind.
9. Better yourself. I know it’s a pain, but if all else fails, you can use this semester to make yourself more like who you want to be. A motivation like this can make the next few months go by more quickly. And you might actually get better grades.