The new academic year can bring many challenges, many of them exciting and fulfilling and some a little more daunting. Whether it is your first year away from home in a new city, or you are a returning student, balancing time, money and getting the work done is a good skill to have. Without organisation and planning, things can get away from you. The challenges are different not only are you exposed to a much wider and deeper level of thinking but you also have to cook and clean for yourself, not to mention being responsible for your finances.
In the academic year 2015/16, over 15,000 1st year students in the UK reported that they had a mental health problem, compared to approximately 3,000 in 2006. This is affected by many factors but there are things you can do to keep yourself calm and organised.
Check your schedule at the start of the week every week
Your University should provide you with your timetable in advance, but they may be subject to change. You should check your timetable once a week and make a note of any room changes/lecture differences.
Pack your bag the night before
I know this sounds like something your mum would tell you in year 7, but it is solid gold advice. When you have had a very long day, eaten your pot-noodle and showered, packing for the next day may seem impossible. It will be even worse if you are running round at 8:45am with nothing prepared. Know what textbooks you require, if you need any stationery or a notebook, and any assignments that are due, and put them in your bag ready! This will feel like micromanaging yourself, but it will save you the stress of forgetting something important. I stuck by this after first term when I forgot my laptop charger and spent the whole lecture trying to scribble my notes into the back of a diary.
Make a note of important dates in the first few days
The first lectures of a new term are arguably some of the most important. Your lecturer will outline their expectations for the module and the dates on which assignments are due and exams are scheduled for. WRITE THESE DOWN! Don’t assume that you will be told these again. I remember in my first year I downloaded a countdown app to my Laptop and I added all the relevant dates and would tell me when I had two months, one month, 3 weeks, etc. I found that if I knew exactly when my assignments were due I could manage my time effectively.
Take advantage of any mindfulness sessions that may be run by the wellbeing team
Universities are well aware of the stress that students experience and many campuses run wellbeing and mindfulness to help. Often these are free and are run several times a week so you are sure to find a session that works around your busy schedule. Also look out for any guidance sessions on time management and study skills to help you manage your work and get the most from your university experience.
While no one is telling you to be so organised that you don’t have room to enjoy the freedom and spontaneity that University provides, it is useful to know where stress points may occur and how to keep on track of your stress.