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A To-Do List for Your First Month Back at School

Returning to school, whether as a senior or freshman, can be intimidating. As an upper classman, classes can increase in difficulty with class workloads becoming more stressful.

At the same time, first-year students are trying to find their footing as college freshmen. The transition can be made easier for everyone by knowing the five things that are guaranteed to make the beginning of the school year run smoothly.

The first thing that students should do when returning from summer break is to get a feel for the campus and surrounding areas. Almost every incoming student has had a nightmare about being unable to find their classes on the first day of school. The obvious thing to do would be for students to take their schedules and find the buildings where their classes are located. This also goes for returning students. However, students often skip out on searching for classes.

Unfortunately, I failed to take my own advice at the start of my second semester. When I came back after winter break during my freshman year, I never thought to look for my classes because I knew where all of the buildings were. But after about 15 minutes of roaming Howard Hall in search of my history class and finding four other lost classmates, I decided that this would not happen again.

And even though getting to know the campus is important, exploring the surrounding towns cannot be forgotten either. Knowing how to get around in West Long Branch and the surrounding areas is also beneficial on many occasions. Obviously, students will forget dorm supplies or materials for class. It is nice to know that the nearest Target is in Ocean Township. It’s the small things that will help in the long run.

The second thing to do when arriving at school is to organize. This includes everything from your schedule to your dorm room. Time can seem to disappear once classes begin, having a week to finish your paper turns into five hours in the blink of an eye. Keeping a calendar of when papers and outside readings are due keeps students on track to finish their work on time. It also allows for better planned free time, so all activities are not squeezed into two hours of the day.

Organizing your dorm room can be as important as organizing your schedule. It is also best to keep it organized from the beginning of school. If a dorm room starts out organized, it is more likely that it will be kept that way for the rest of the year. The best part about a clean dorm room is that it creates a more relaxing atmosphere.

Getting involved on campus is important and very much stressed to freshmen entering college. The people around you are the people you will have classes with for at least four years so it is best to get to know each other. One great idea for meeting new people is to say “Hi” to the first 10 people that you pass, which was an idea my friend came up with. She and her roommate did this on the first day of school and miraculously, she remains best friends with one of the 10 people she said “hi” to that day. Just saying “hi” to strangers is an easy way to start up conversations with peers that you might not have met otherwise.

But getting to know classmates is not the only way to get involved on campus. It needs not repeating that there are many clubs offered at the University, but it is important to get involved early on. The sooner you join clubs, the quicker you will meet people and become truly involved on campus.

Fourth on the list of things to do is to get on good terms with your new roommate. All students hope that they will become best friends or at least friends with their roommate, but that is not always the case. As long as roommates learn to live with and respect each other and their space, sharing a room can become a good experience, friends or not. The roommate agreement required by Residential Life is a good way to start, but it is also important that roommates talk more in depth about their expectations. Letting an issue go that bothers you will lead to much bigger problems down the road. If roommates can get along and compromise with each other, it will make the college experience ten times better.

The fifth and final thing a returning college student should do is to get in the habit of a regular sleep schedule. As an extension of organizing day to day activities, there should be ample time for sleeping. It can be hard getting enough sleep with all of the work, but it should be at the top of every student’s list. USA Today published a study written by Pamela Thacher where the research showed that the GPA of students who pull all-nighters is lower than average. No one needs to be told that getting enough sleep can make students more alert and help them retain more information. But no matter how many times it is repeated, there will be someone who gets little-to-no sleep every night. It might be put on the back burner for some students, but eventually it will catch up to them.

Everyone knows college can be a huge adjustment, but if students know their surroundings, stay organized, get involved, compromise with their roommates and get enough sleep, the transition can be much easier.