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Going Back to School After a Long Break? Tips for a Stress-Free Start

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Going back to school after a long break can be a daunting task, especially if you were in school and decided to take a break. However, there are a few easy things you can do to make the process easier and less stressful. It involves planning ahead, and building support systems in your life.

Going Back To School

Teachers and students alike tend to dread going back to school after a long break. Whether it is summer break, winter break, or even spring break, going school after a long break can be a stressful proposition. If you have been away from school even longer, a whole new set of anxieties. However, there are some easy things you can do make your start back to school stress-free.

Plan Ahead, and Save Some Stress

Before going back to school, be sure to plan ahead. There are lots of details in your life that can make going back to school stressful, especially after a long break. Getting those in order can smooth the way for you to transition back to school.

For example, if you are working and going back to school you are not alone. A Georgetown study found in 2011-2012 about sixty-percent of college students work at least 30 hours a week while enrolled in college. Twenty-six percent of those students were working full-time. If you are amongst this group, it is important to plan ahead when going back to college. Be sure you have a plan in place not just for how you will get to your classes every week, and work your job. You also need to have a plan in place for how you will get your coursework done as well.

Going back to school after a long break may mean you need to talk to your advisor and discuss how much work is involved in the courses you are planning to take. Another option is asking for a copy of the course syllabus from previous sections of the course, so you can have a better idea what the work involved will be. You don't want to bite off more than you can handle because that is counterproductive to your ultimate goal of graduating college.

woman talking

Another aspect you can plan for is creating a support system to help you be successful. For example, if you have children plan ahead for their care. If you have class, and they get sick, who can help you look after them in the interim? Or on the flip side, if you get stuck at work or need extra time to yourself who can help care for your family? Do you have grandparents, parents, or even in-laws who can step in and lend a hand? Building a support system is important because you will likely need to rely on these people to keep your life running smoothly during the hectic periods of mid-terms and final exams as well.

Get Into the Routine Before You Go Back to School

Before you start school, go ahead and start getting yourself back into a school routine even before you start. If you have a family, this is even more important because it is not just you who will have to find a new rhythm in your household.

For example, you may create a weekly priorities routine to help you, those in your life, to determine the priorities for the week and make sure you have all your bases covered.

Students talking

Setting a weekly priorities list could mean looking at your course syllabus and the work you need to accomplish that week, and setting a plan for what needs to be done in order of importance. The plan could even include any church, family, or work events you are involved with. You can easily get into this habit before your classes start, so that by the time school starts it is part of your normal routine.

Your weekly priorities list could even include where each item on the list will be done. For example, do you need to spend some time at the library? Or perhaps your kids have events at school you want to attend. How will your child get to their soccer game while you have class? Having a family meeting to review the priorities of the week will make sure everyone is on the same team.

Don't Procrastinate

The reality is that only about fifty-six percent of people who start a degree finish their program of study. These statistics can be daunting; you can be successful. However, it requires you to diligently manage your school, work, and home lives.

Just like you may have a work schedule, plan a school schedule. Once you have your weekly priorities list, budget exactly when and where you will get your school tasks completed. Sometimes this is painful if you are a born procrastinator, but you want to consider the consequences of procrastination. Poor grades or not finishing your degree can have consequences for yourself in terms of missed opportunities. It could even impact your family or future family financially.

student studying

Be specific in your plan as well. Will you do some school work on your lunch hour? Do you plan to get a grandparent to babysit one night a week so you can work on your more difficult coursework? When you're tired from work and school, sticking to the plan can be hard. However, if you have a clear goal in your reason for being at school, that will motivate you through those tough days.

By Rachel Tustin
December 2016
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