Back to school basics

Back to school basics

Back to school season is here. 

And that means new stationery! (Don’t judge me, I know you love new pens too.)

This time of year for a lot of us is all about new beginnings. New courses, new classes, new friends, new struggles and new successes. It’s daunting, stressful and tiring, but it’s a chance to start afresh and to broaden our minds (cringe). I’ll do my best to not sound like a university prospectus, although I think I’ve already failed on that one… I’ll outline below a few of the ways I get myself ready to go back to uni and get back into a productive mindset.

organisation is key

If you need to, stock up on new stationery. Pens, highlighters, notepads, folders and dividers. Get it all together, figure out what you have, don’t have, and what needs refreshing. A lot of stationery shops (Paperchase, for example) do student discounts and good 3 for 2 type deals, so keep an eye out for those. You don’t want to be scrambling around for a pen at the bottom of your bag amongst chocolate bar wrappers and receipts (which is exactly what my bag looks like…).

photo from unsplash by Estée Janssens

That brings me to my next point. Organise the bags you’ll be using for school. For me, this means getting my rucksack ready. I leave my pencil case in there along with a water bottle, a reusable coffee cup, my glasses, and all the cards I need (ID, debit, uni card).

get ready to make sacrifices again

School and university obviously take up a hell of a lot of our time, even more so with out-of-hours work added on top of that. University in particular (some courses more than others) might mean few contact hours, but you’ll be expected to be doing a lot of independent study out of classes, seminars and lectures. Some courses are more practical, but others will have heavy reading lists. Either way, your social life will take a hit as work becomes a priority.

Be ready to have to say no to certain things. Prepare to not always be able to say yes to dinner with friends, a night out or a shopping trip, if deadline week is approaching. Sometimes work will have to come first and that’s okay, people will understand.

However, remember to have balance. It’s not healthy to squirrel away in your room once term begins and to never see your friends again! It’ll just make you miserable and probably unproductive. In reality, sparing a few hours to unwind is a must if you don’t want to burn out. The trick is – figuring out when and when not to prioritise work. If societies and clubs are your things then get involved when you get to university. There are societies for everything nowadays, so check out your student union website and see what suits you. Just make sure you don’t over-commit.

staying on top of work

The best way to do this is to look ahead at what your course or term requires from you work-wise. If you have essays at the end of term and the beginning of the next term like I do, then you’ll know that the end of the term is going to be busy, so you can get your readings done whilst you can earlier on. Keep some form of diary, online or on paper, and schedule in when you’re going to be snowed under with hand-ins and coursework. Even if they’re months away, it’s good to have them in the back of your head so you know when you can or can’t pencil other things in on top.

figure out what suits you

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Are you a night owl or an early bird? Are libraries your place to study, coffee shops or common rooms?

Once you get into a routine, you should figure out how and when you work best. If you’re a night owl, the chances are you’re never going to be able to shift that and wake up and study early. There’s scientific fact behind it: if you’re more productive and work well late in the evening, that’s always going to be the case.

Different people also work well in different environments. I probably work best in a library where I don’t have much choice but to do my work. Sometimes I like to stay home so I can be in my PJs and have constant cups of tea, but it doesn’t always make me hugely productive. After a few weeks, you’ll probably figure out where you work best, whether it’s alone or with friends, out, or at home.

Enjoy it

School or university won’t last forever, and the vast majority of people look back and say they miss it. It might not feel like you could ever imagine saying that right now, but it’s a super unique time of our lives where, for most of us, our main responsibility is just to learn and grow. Whilst it’s a massive challenge (and right now you might be totally hating your life), chances are you’ll miss it when it’s gone. Try and make the most of it and what it can offer you, and immerse yourself in it as much as you can.

Do you have any specific tips to get yourself back into a study mindset? Comment below if so!


11 thoughts on “Back to school basics”

  • I absolutely loved reading it as a new university student blanketed by new situations, people. It was really helpful😊

  • Having gone through undergrad and now working on my masters degree I still don’t feel like I’ve mastered the whole revision thing! Although, I have gotten ALOT better at time management. I find that after hours of studying and writing, going for a simpe walk or havig a small work out and coming back to the matieral is a huge help. Also, having lots of tea and chocolate handy! I won’t allow myself a tea or chocolate if I haven’t gotten to a certain point in my studying 🙂 kind of a personal reward system that for some reason works for me!

    Also, having studied in the UK during a small part of my undergraduate career, I noticed a huge difference in the UK and US ways of teaching and expectations with coursework (to be honest, I like the UK way a lot more!) In the US, we have multiple asssignments due each week (sometimes only one major assignment depending on the course and professor). Anyways…studying in the US I always find study groups to be helpful. Especially if it’s more of a written exam class rather than essays! Study groups help me stay motiviated but also a great way to make new friends! (not sure i this would work as well with UK coursework since it’s more essay focused).

    Love the article! Good luck with your degree! We are so blessed to be able to study at higher education and I try not to take it for granted. I’m savoring my last year all I can!!

    Xx, Reagan

  • Totally agree in everything! I would add: don’t stress out! The thing is, some people in my class want to have really good marks this year that they’re are working very hard (even harder than last year) and we’ve started only a month ago. They are so stressed now that I don’t know how are they gonna be for finals in january.
    Great post (as always)! Hope uni is treating you well! x

  • Love this! Any tips for reading? Might sound daft but sometimes I feel like I just can’t make it go in and have no recollection of something I’ve just spent an hour reading about?! X

  • So I’m starting my GCSE’s at the end of this year and we have been told to pick our options… I’m so stuck! What do I do! I’m thinking separate sciences, geography, media studies, French or maybe health and social studies. What did you choose for your GCSE’s? And how did you revise? My RE teacher is insisting that I use flash cards, but I don’t think they help me at all! Loved this blog, really helped me organise -Rose xxx

  • I started my GCSEs this year and I’m doing triple award science, maths, further maths, English language, English liteature, re, Spanish, child development, it digital media and I’m so freaked out already. I have so much work to get through and my teachers insisted last year that I picked subjects that would teach my full potential as I am quite academic like I got all A’s and a*s last year( don’t ask how cause I rlly don’t know). Anyways I’m not a very confident person as it is and now my English teacher has just set us a speech and my confidence that I have has just plummeted and I literally panick about it everyday. Can you give me any tips cause I’m really struggling atm.

    • Not just about the speech but just about general confidence has plummeted xx I’ve liteersllg just given up on school and I just feel so stressed out and down about everything atm and I don’t know how to stop feeling like this

  • Hey Kirstie,

    These tips really helped me out getting back into college life and if it is possible, I would love to hear more about some study tips that works best for you (if you haven’t written about it yet!)

    I really like reading your work and I hope that you’d continue to write more when you have the time of course

    Love you!

  • I just wanted to say that you inspire me so much with this blog and your Instagram. I’ve even decided to start my own blog! I don’t know what I’m going to write about but I intend to find myself and my way through life with it. so thank you so much for all your inspiration, and I promise I’ll take care of the environment 😉

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