I always viewed my time here at university as an ongoing battle. I was the soldier who was fighting for his freedom against the oppression of an unforgiving, dream-destroying, soul-snatching institution. Now don’t get me wrong, university can be a great place that can have a very positive effect on one’s intellectual and professional development, but there are aspects of it that over time, can ware one’s resilience and positive attitude away if one is not careful. I’ll get into that another post.
The happiest moments, for me, have been the temporary lulls (otherwise known as summer and winter break) that occur between successive battles. However, nothing lasts forever and one must inevitably return to the four year cycle. Unfortunately most students suffer from what’s known as shell shock upon return. Simply stated, this is a cognitive state where a student is not mentally prepared for the start of the semester. This usually results in the student either skipping the first few classes or zoning out during class. Then end result is that you have to catch up on all of the material that you missed, which can be very difficult especially if you have a very hectic schedule with a lot of labs. Luckily there are a few things that you can do to ensure that you are well prepared for the start of the semester.
Actually take a break
Do yourself a favour and actually take a break when you are on break. It’s fine if you want to work or to pursue other interests but make sure that you are getting your much deserved rest and that you are not overexerting yourself. You may regret it later.
Adjust your sleep Schedule
If you are like me, then your sleep schedule gets completely messed up during the break. I usually don’t go to sleep until at least 2am in the morning and then I sleep in until 11am. Although this is fine during the break, it is terrible for going back to school since you usually have to wake up much earlier than 11am. What I recommend doing is conditioning yourself to get up at the time that you will be when school starts at least a week before you go back. That way your body will have adapted to the sleep schedule that you will be following when you are back at school.
Get your stuff in order
Most professors make the syllabus and other course materials available online before the first class so be sure to print them. Also make sure that you have binders, paper, pencils, pens, and whatever other school supplies you need ahead of time and also make sure that all of your course materials are nicely organized into their respective binders.
Mentally prepare for it
Like I said before university is a battle and you need to make sure that you are mentally prepared for the workload that you are about to encounter. Make sure that you are ready to deal with the labs, the all nighters, the midterms, and the early classes. Personally I find that exercise (particularly cardiovascular exercise) really helps with this. The endorphins that are released triggers feelings of well being which really helps to prepare for the return of school.
Hope this helps!