So I saw the first “Back to School” ad on Amazon today, which means it is time to start reminding people of what is Actually Necessary for the school year. This isn’t a school supplies list, really. It’s more of a guide as to what you should probably have ready before the school year begins.

A planner system that works for you. I like the bullet journal system, but that’s mostly because I have to write down EVERYTHING I need to do or it gets forgotten immediately. Normal planners don’t have enough space for me to write down everything I need to do. If a normal planner works, or if reminders in Google Calendar work, or if writing stuff on your arms works, do that thing. Just make sure you know what system you’re going to use.

A schedule that includes meals and practice and study times. I’m a big fan of including leisure time in your schedule, too. Add everything you know you need to do, plus a little more. I schedule in sleep, sometimes, just to remind myself I need it. I hold my scheduled times pretty much sacred, because otherwise I will procrastinate EVERYTHING. The schedule keeps me from playing around when I should be studying, so I don’t have to study when I was supposed to sleep, so I’m awake enough to have energy to do fun stuff when I DO have time. It prevents a “Give a Mouse a Cookie” situation with my responsibilities and time management.

A sleep cycle that agrees with your class schedule.  I don’t mean you HAVE to sleep 11pm-7am, or whatever you consider an “adult” sleep cycle. I mean you need to get a certain amount of sleep to be your best self, and you need to attend classes. The sleep cycle you need is what allows you to be well-rested AND attend all of your classes. You can probably figure that out on your own. Just make sure to set it up before the semester starts to save yourself some stress.

A work-station that will be useful for you. Do you work well when you have a regular place you use just for work? Do you need to work with other people around you? Does music help or hurt your concentration? Try doing some focused work this summer in a couple different situations and see what is most helpful. Then figure out how to bring that same situation with you to school. If a desk like a Pinterest photo is too much effort or doesn’t actually help, then you don’t need to have one! I certainly haven’t managed to maintain one yet. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a good student, I promise.

A list of healthy foods you are actually willing to make/buy. The hardest thing about college is honestly the ubiquity of vending machines, and therefore my favorite snack foods. I live a constant battle against the siren call of the Cheetos that are only 40 feet from my dorm room. My only weapon is the knowledge that I usually feel gross after eating them, and I’d rather not feel gross all the time because of a cheese-dust craving. To fight your own snack demons, see if you can discover a couple healthy foods you’d be willing to munch on the regular. Keep them available and you’ll feel much better during study sessions than you would if your snack was Funyuns.

 

Being prepared to go back to college in the fall doesn’t require dropping $300 on school supplies, honest. Just spend some time figuring out your own best practices and it will make the start of your school year so much easier.

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