Strategies for Surviving School

View of mountains, library, and HFAC

As advisors, every day we talk with students and hear some of your struggles of being a student. You may have jobs, volunteer work, friends, health concerns, callings, days spent with toddlers and babies and teenagers and elderly parents--it’s a lot!

To add to it, some of you haven’t been in school for a long time. As a student myself, I get it. Starting a new program after seven years has felt like a lot to take on for me. It’s hard! Managing family, work and school has mostly been a fire hydrant experience for me, with which I’m sure many of you can relate.

However, there have been a few things that have helped me maintain a liveable level of chaos. These are more “big picture” strategies that have helped me set a tone more conducive to success and less stress.

Support System

Whether that is a spouse, parents, kids, or a friend, find at least one person that can support you in your education. My husband has been a great support, as well as many friends. Our kids are too little to understand me being in school, but if your kids are old enough, enlist them to cheer you on! It might be an uncomfortable shift for them to not have you as available as before, but having a good conversation to explain what your doing and why can help them better understand.

Plan

I am a natural list maker, but not a natural list follow through-er. It’s ok if planning isn’t a natural tendency for you, but during school it helps so much to train yourself to plan better. Whether your planner is online or paper and pen, find a system that works for you. For me, it has helped to have a paper planner with erasable pens so I can color coordinate and keep all of the family stuff purple (my girls’ favorite color), work stuff green ($$), etc. It helps me to look at my week at a glance and see how much of each category I have going on. I also had to set an alarm on my phone to remind me to look at it in the morning. Do what you need to follow through with yourself.

Use Your Lunch

It’s super easy to do a “working lunch” and not take a break, but take it. Sometimes I use mine to do some homework, but mostly for some self-care. I go on walks at lunch, even if I only have time to walk around the Marriott Center and back. There’s not a lot of time for me to do self-care once I’m home, so I take advantage of lunch. This also applies to kid naptime, or those 10 minutes in the after-school pick-up line, or waking up 30 minutes earlier, etc. There are a lot of hours in the day, so find some consistent time to do something that makes you feel good (or around finals you can use it for extra studying if needed).  

And my ultimate kicker for school happiness…

Accept Lower Standards at Home

I’m a big believer in never apologizing for having a messy house when someone comes over. That being said, I also don’t like living in a pigsty. I don’t want a sink full of dishes when I wake up in the morning because it makes getting breakfast ready stressful. I love all the drawing my daughters give me, but don’t love that I have 247 sheets of construction paper stacked all over my bedroom.

But, sometimes you need to let things slide and set different priorities for yourself. There will be many nights that school needs to take priority over how you’re used to running your household. The kitchen will stay messier longer, your teenagers may have to walk home, and well-balanced dinners may be replaced more frequently by dino nuggets. It’s okay, everyone will survive, and temporary.

Well, maybe temporary--those nuggets are tasty!

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