For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Sep 16 2015
by Mia Renee Cole

Keep Your Sh*t Together

By Mia Renee Cole - Sep 16 2015

College: it’s very different from high school. No longer can we cram for tests, write essays the day before or expect our teachers to remind us of due dates. It is now up to us to know what’s due, when it’s due and to turn it in on time. It’s a whole new game.

That’s why, more often than not, we find ourselves seriously stressed out. A pending anxiety attack or serious apathy threaten our GPA or good essay grade. We find ourselves struggling to win at this game.

I’m here to coach you in this foreign sport of college. There are both “do’s” and “don’ts” but I’m here today simply to tell you how to keep it all together, without completely losing it.

Plan Your Week in Advance

No longer can you take things day-by-day. You need to have a strong visual of what your upcoming week will entail. Map out how much work and studying you have, what’s due and what extracurriculars you might have going on. Write it down in advance and keep it in an area where you’ll constantly be reminded of the things to come. Take time on Friday evening to take a look at your coming week.

Use the Syllabus (to plan month-by-month)

I quickly discovered why most professors’ syllabi are nearly twenty pages long: they contain all the due dates for the entire semester. Use this to your advantage by planning months in advance. Write down important dates such as midterms, finals and quizzes for the entire semester as soon as your receive your syllabus. From there, write down each individual assignment and when it’s due about a month—to a month and a half—in advance. This way you will know two, three, four weeks ahead of time when you might have a super rough week.

Use a Filing System

Okay, so maybe not that kind of filing system, but an effective one for your school work. One of the best decisions I made this year was purchasing an accordion file folder to keep all of my printed assignments in for all my classes and extracurriculars. Everything is in one place instead of spread out over multiple folders. I am able to organize my classes, my clubs and delivery menus all in the same area.

Always Back-Up on a Flashdrive

Maybe flashdrives are foreign concepts for most of us, but they are super helpful when working on important assignments. Writing an essay? Working on a presentation? Even if you’re using a word processor that automatically saves as you work, it is still smart to have another means of accessing the file. We hear too many horror stories of students losing entire essays the night before they’re due, and you don’t want to be mixed up in that. Play it safe and always back it up.

Take a Breather

Probably the most important item on this list: just take a break. Work can be overwhelming, so you definitely deserve a time to relax. Take a couple minutes to meditate, do some yoga to stretch out your joints or watch an episode of Friends on Netflix. Just make sure not to take too many of these breaks; take them in consistent intervals so that your brain is both still active but also relaxed.

College: a game that we can definitely win, but only if we play it right.

Lead Image Credit: Universal Pictures

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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at!

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