Pictured: Pensive Freshman. Image from StockSnap.

Pictured: Pensive Freshman. Image from StockSnap.

It’s a month (or more!) into the school year, and you have 300 pages of reading, 8 papers, and 3 midterms within the next week. To make it all worse, everyone but you has found their college friend group. Never fear. Though these (and similar) situations can get you down, these tips will have you reveling in happy days once more.


1. Prioritize

Always do the homework that’s due the soonest. This sounds like common sense, but one of my favorite procrastination tricks is to work on things that are due next year and put off the things that are due tomorrow. Since I’m doing homework, I feel productive, but reality tells a different story. This goes for social events too. It’s important to make connections during your first year. You’re in a new place around new people; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and isolate yourself. You shouldn’t blow off your work and go out every night, but you also shouldn’t hole yourself up in your room and do homework for days. It’s all about balance.

2. Break it down

College syllabi are tiny works of art. Seriously. In high school, teachers would vaguely mention that a paper would be due sometime in the future, and out of the blue, it would be due next week. In college, you can map out nearly everything that’ll ever be due as soon as the first day of class. Do it. Plug it all into your schedule and see which weeks are your heaviest. Have a solid plan for getting all (or most) of your homework finished instead of “just winging it.” It’s impossible to get everything done at one time. Break it all up into bite sized chunks.

3. Ask upperclassmen for help

The upperclassmen think it’s cute that we have no idea where the Political Science building is or that we actually did all 232 pages of the reading. Put their knowledge to good use. They know lots of tips and tricks that’ll smooth the way for you at your individual institution and they’re usually happy to share. Ask them about the best classes they’ve taken and how to study for certain classes. If you don’t yet have upperclassmen friends, check out online professor review sites like Rate My Professor. Be aware that people usually leave reviews only if they were very pleased or very upset with the class.

4. Ask for help in general

Peer to peer tutoring, on campus mentoring, writing and speaking centers. . . your tuition dollars are being put to good use. Take advantage of all the resources your campus has to offer.


5. Spend time with others

It’s an elaborate form of distraction. When you’re with other people, it’s harder to get trapped in your head. Plus, if you often hang out with lots of different people, you’ll sooner find the ones you click with. Life — and making friends– is all about putting yourself out there.

6. Sit with different people during meals

It may seem awkward at first, but you could find your best friend this way. You might get rejected by people who are busy studying or who just want to sit alone, but if you keep trying, you’re bound to find someone to talk to. If you don’t feel comfortable chatting up strangers, try sitting with your roommate. Avoid eating alone in your room at all costs.

7. Call your parents or friends from home

They all miss you more than you realize. You probably miss them too. Homesickness always comes when you least expect it. Your friends may seem to be having the times of their lives on Facebook and Instagram, but remember that social media doesn’t tell the full story. Check up on them to make sure everything’s okay.

8. Make a study group

The people in your classes all have one common goal: learning the material. Starting a study group not only exposes you to the material in a new way, but creates bonds with other group members. Just remember to stay focused.


9. Not all free time has to be filled with stuff

I come from a place where free time is a myth. There’s always something more productive I could be doing than reading my novel, watching Netflix, or knitting. That doesn’t mean I always have to strive to be “productive.” Never feel guilty for taking a little bit of personal time, especially in times of great stress and ordeal.

10. Don’t put off the little things that need doing

Homework is important, but so is sleep. And laundry. And eating. ‘Nuff said.

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