Illustration by Ysabel Berger

There is a general consensus among UVU students that the fall semester of 2021 was a difficult and tiring one. Whether because of schoolwork, employment, life at home, or a combination of all three – there seemed a palpable sigh of relief when finals ended and the holidays began. Now, it might feel overwhelming and stressful after the challenges of last semester to get back into the swing of things, but here are some tips and tricks to help UVU students through these next few months of the new year:

  1. Get organized 

The first tip is a simple one, but actually makes a significant difference when it comes to getting things in order for the spring semester of school. With only a short break between fall and spring, the disorganization at the end of a semester (and year) can often lead to disorganization at the beginning of a new one. Having a place for everything, knowing which textbooks are where, packing a bag the night before so nothing essential is forgotten, are just a few simple things that can completely change the course of a semester. If last semester was a difficult one, perhaps it was due to feelings of disorganization and there are ways to fix that. Start by making a home study space with all of the materials needed and have it organized so there isn’t a feeling of stress or clutter. Put everything away after using it. Find cheap storage containers on Facebook Marketplace or Amazon, use labels. Watch videos from people like Marie Kondo, map out due dates ahead of time. These will help aid on the path to a successful spring 2022 semester.

  1. Manage time efficiently

This one, though apparent to students, is still an inherent difficulty. When it comes to watching the newest Netflix series or writing a five-page paper for a class – there is a lot more to be distracted by now, possibly more so than ever before. Having an endless array of diversions creates a disconnect, where it is actually hard to distinguish between what is distracting and what is productive for students. By taking a look at last semester and determining what triggered distraction then, it is possible to prepare for that same disturbances this semester. Be aware of what pulls focus away from homework, be aware of things that call for attention outside of top priorities. Pick a day each week to plan out the next, even going so far as to block off hours at a time for specific assignments, essays or studying for upcoming tests. Sound too overwhelming? Take it day by day if necessary, but make sure to know what is due so it doesn’t sneak up and ultimately cause avoidable anxiety. 

  1. Practice mindfulness 

The third tip is not only essential to the college student, but to anyone who may struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Mindfulness is about awareness or paying attention on purpose. It is a type of meditation that focuses on things in the present moment. Many times in school, feelings of anxiety can cause such intense stress that it leads to a debilitated state where it is difficult to actually finish the work. Mindfulness can help narrow down the thought process, where instead of stressing about the five assignments due next week, the focus is solely on the present and what is being worked on at that moment. Some small ways to practice can be paced breathing, taking a walk, or even checking out mindfulness apps like Headspace or Calm – both of which have student discounts. If eating a snack, take a second to catalog the sensations and flavors to better come back to the present moment. These small things can greatly ease anxiety when it comes to school.

  1. Meet new people

The fourth and final tip, though seemingly cliché, is critically important to life on campus. With the array of classes and new faces that surface on a daily basis, it is sometimes easier to keep hoods on and heads down. What makes the college experience much brighter and bearable is connection. It is fairly difficult to feel any sense of belonging when nobody ever talks, but at UVU, there are opportunities everywhere! Creating lasting relationships is a huge element of the college experience and UVU offers tons of chances to engage with other students and make friends. Some of these include joining clubs, study groups, attending events and even merely speaking to someone new in class this semester. If there ever is any piece of advice to be taken by any college student, fresh or veteran, it would be to keep an open mind to all the possibilities. For options on how to get connected, visit ??https://connect.uvu.edu/.

Spring semester is a time to work hard and enjoy the opportunities. Starting fresh with a new set of classes in a new year gives UVU students the ability to let go of old stressors and approach new ones with more excitement and mindfulness. Remember these tips when needed and enjoy all the things a new spring semester can bring!

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