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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Don’t sweat the first few weeks

A student in distress from the first weeks of school

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Let’s not beat around the bush: The first few weeks of school can be intense. Whether you’re brand new to the school or the most super of seniors, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce. But as we head into a brand new school year, you should do your best to not stress too much. 

The truth is, you are far from the only one feeling this way. Professors are human too. Just like you, they’ve been enjoying a long “brain break” over the summer, and are probably just as nervous if not more. 

Your teachers want to be liked as much as you do, and the first few weeks are most likely going to be a bit of an adjustment period for everyone. Most of your classes are likely to be full of reading through syllabi and goofy “get to know you” type games.

However, some students might not be so lucky. If you’re in a more intense major, you might be reading hundreds of pages while your friends are playing  icebreakers. STEM majors especially can face an immense amount of stress even at the beginning of the year. 

If you’re headed to med school, slacking off is not an option. Take your GPA seriously, but don’t forget that your professors are there to help you, even in the hardest majors. Most classes drop grades, so these first few quizzes aren’t likely to set your grades back permanently. 

Remember that college is a marathon, not a sprint. Take a deep breath, list all the important due dates in your planner, and do your best to take each assignment one at a time. Ask for help now rather than the last week of the semester.

At the end of the day, your mental and physical health matters more than your productivity, and rushing right at the start of the semester is a recipe for burnout. 

Right now is the perfect time to set good habits, both for productivity and relaxing. Good habits start small, and experts say they’re built best when tied into existing routines. Putting your classes in Google calendar and finding space for routines can make a world of difference.

For example, you could find time in your schedule to turn your brain (and your phone) off and center yourself, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. On the more productive side, study groups can be a fantastic way to stay on top of classes and make new friends.

Speaking of new friends, you should consider trying out any student organizations that look interesting to you. You might not have time later in the semester, so this is a great chance to get involved before you’re drowning in assignments. 

The hard parts of classes tend to come later, so there will be plenty of time to be stressed come midterms. And if it really does become too much, there is no shame in dropping a class.

College can be equal parts rewarding and crushing, and many times the only thing you can do is choose how you react to what’s thrown your way. So why not start this semester off right?

Malachi Spence Key is a journalism senior who can be reached at
[email protected]


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