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Getting Yourself Ready for the Semester

January 17, 2012

Our spring semester starts tomorrow.  Am I ready?  I’ve been dutifully checking off things on my back-to-school (er, work) list.  I’ve organized my work bag.  I’ve done my syllabi and lesson plans.  But that’s not all I need to do.  I need to get myself back on my work schedule, going to bed and rising much earlier than when I’m on vacation.  And every semester, I have to get my head mentally ready–ready to teach, ready to learn, ready to listen, ready to be organized and focused.

I’m ready.  Are you?

When you think about beginning your new semester, how do you get yourself ready? Hopefully, you have your binder ready and your textbooks on hand. (This is good student behavior #1.)  Now you need to get yourself physically ready.  You’ve had several weeks off to stay out late, sleep in or work double shifts at your job.  And if you’re like most of us, your eating and exercise habits have probably been on holiday mode, too.  That’s an entirely different schedule than the one you are about to start now.  So what do you need to do to get on a better schedule for the next four months?  Go to bed earlier?  Build in a bit of exercise? Eat better?

But what about mentally?  Have you got your game on for school?  It may help to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I going to college?  Are you here because you have a specific career you’re training for (like journalism)?  Are you here because you want to gain some life skills?  Are you here because your parents said you had to?  Crystallizing why you are going to college will help you, because you’ll understand your goal.  And once you have a goal, you can chart how to make it to that goal.
  2. Do I really want to be here?  You’re a grown up.  This is your life.  Time to be honest with yourself:  Do you really want to do the hard work it’s going to take to get yourself through school?  Through this semester?
  3. What are my biggest challenges for being successful this semester?  Do you work too many hours for the number of units you are enrolled in?  Do you tend to lose motivation mid-semester?  Maybe you have a learning disability (or need to be tested for one).  Maybe you get sick a lot when under stress.  Whatever it is, it’ll help you cope–and address–these challenges if you know ahead of time what you’ll be working with.
  4. How can I surmount these challenges?  Now that you’ve identified what your obstacles are, you need to brainstorm how to overcome them.  Do you need to reduce the hours you work?  Or reduce the number of units you take?  (After all, if you start out with 16 units, but end with only 6, you’ve wasted a lot of energy on classes you’ve ended up dropping.) Or maybe you need to tap into resources on campus that can help with a whole host of issues, from learning or physical challenges to financial aid to basic skills help.  Skyline College offers all of these.

In the end, a lot of overcoming challenges and getting your head in the game, so to speak, goes back to questions #1 and #2.  The more you really want to be in college and the clearer you are about why you’re here, the more you will be readying yourself for success.

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