Back to school blues: Six tips to ease the pain

(Image credit: Mjnoon.Maha/Flickr)
(Image credit: Mjnoon.Maha/Flickr)

“I can’t wait for summer vacation to be over!” said no one ever. Beautiful beach days and summer bonfires have come to an end. Early morning commutes, late evening classes and parking congestion are in store for us all. The question of how to survive your first semester at college (or the dreaded return) seems to be on everyone’s mind. The start of the academic year is an event that not many students look forward to. However, the day arrives much quicker than anticipated. Getting back to class after two and a half months of summer paradise can be tough, so here are six tips to get back in the swing of school.

1.) Retail therapy cures all

According to a study published in 2011 by Psychology and Marketing, retail therapy or self-treats help improve your mood. Whether it’s an outfit for the first day of school or a packet of ball-point pens, the new items will raise anticipation and excitement for the day’s arrival. Go from hating the idea of starting school again to viewing it as a fashion show with homework. Looking good and being prepared for school comes in one easy package when there are back-to-school sales in numerous retail and school supplies stores. Stroll down the aisles of Target and gain some courage strutting down the school’s halls. With all the amazing red tags persuading you to overspend, a college budget calls to always to shop responsibly.

2.) If you’re upset, vent on social media

If celebrities use social networking sites as free therapy sessions, so can anyone else. No one is alone in wishing summer would last just a couple months longer (if not forever). The high number of likes and retweets from a community hesitant to hit the books will act as a wonderful companion and support system. New memes and group pages are posted everyday and they are sure to boost morale. Sometimes a quick laugh via the internet is all it takes to brighten your day. Don’t forget to share those hilarious stunned-with-mouthful-of-leaves koala memes, a feeling too familiar when realizing that school is here. Laugh at the koala. Don’t be the koala.

3.) If you can’t beat them, get organized

It’s no use crying over something that can’t be avoided. It’s better to go into battle with a plan. Never just “wing it” and expect to succeed with all limbs attached. Name and color code the different calendars: academic, social and work. Plan all goals, schedule meetings, lunch dates and more. Prioritize assignments by due dates. This will help you feel in control of upcoming events and school work. The overwhelming fear of biting off more than you should have dissapears when everything is given a designated time and place.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a social event if it conflicts with school work. Perfect attendance to social gatherings will not allow for sufficient study time. Put down the red cup and pick up an ‘A’ in the next assignment.

4.) Text messages can’t replace a good old fashioned gossip session

Although too many college parties can become a problem, a lunch date with friends is useful. Set a lunch date with a friend on campus and exchange the details of the day. Social connectedness enhances a sense of belonging and happiness, according to a study released by the Department of Psychology in the University of Denver, 2011. College gossip helps merge the lines between summer vacation and school recess periods. Get informed about the latest hookups, relationships, internship opportunities and more. It is also crucial to make friends inside classes. Building relationships within the classroom walls can lead to study groups and a liaison between an emergency and missed class work. The faces inside the classroom could well become the faces of future co-workers and/or possible employers. Make a good impression.

5.) A little zen can clear up those parking woes

Blasting Ludacris’ “Move, Bitch, Get of the Way,” is probably not the best method of clearing traffic. The Department of Police Services distributed an e-mail before the start of school informing all students that “during the first two to three weeks of the semester, drivers will experience a high volume of traffic around the campus from the morning hours until about 1:00 pm.” Calm tunes can help with relaxing and pushing through the traffic. Once you survive the struggle of parking, the fight is not over. According to CSUN’s Office of Institutional Research, this fall will be the largest incoming freshman class thus far. But don’t panic, foot traffic is expected to reduce around the same time as car traffic (and campus crowding usually calms down after the first few weeks). So don’t give up. The pain will subside.

6.) Don’t stress.

The simplest of reminders are also the toughest to remember. Start the day with a hearty breakfast. Allow for some extra time for the expected delay in arrival. Study the campus map to avoid getting lost in the halls. Take advantage of the many organizations and clubs made available for students. New faces can become new friends. Make CSUN a home away from home. A positive approach can turn an unwanted task into a fun-filled adventure. Lastly, step back, look around at the open spaces, and breath. It’s just another semester and one step closer to graduation. College is the place to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and grow from them. Enjoy.