Going back to school after a long winter break is rough. Our heads are full of fluff from the holidays, we’ve forgotten much of what we learned during the previous semester, and our sleep schedules have most likely become much, much different from what they used to be. There are things that can be done to make it easier, from a veteran in going back to school.
One of my biggest tips is to consider taking a winter class. I know that interrupts the coveted long break, but it keeps the mindset and habits of academia. It is sometimes tough with harder classes, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult class. Take something that doesn’t require a massive amount of work (avoid forgien language classes!), but still challenges you in terms of critical thinking and time management. However, do beware, the length of time between the end of winter interterm and spring semester can be short (I’m going to have three days between them).
If possible, get textbooks well in advance. Some schools have systems that have the books for the classes listed well before the semester starts, but I know my community college did not. If no list is available, email professors and ask about the books needed, and if any may be given to the class.
Getting familiar with campus again can also be essential. It can be surprising how soon we can lose our way around somewhere that’s so familiar to us after being gone a few weeks. This includes finding out where classes are in advance by figuring out the specific rooms that classes will be in (doing this the first day of class is fine if you go early). Also, finding professors’ offices before or at the beginning of the semester is likely to be helpful.
The transition back into the life of academia isn’t an easy task, even for those of us who have done it many, many times. It gets easier, and sooner or later, I think a lot of us end up being happy to go back and feel independent and accomplished once again.
Best of luck to everyone in the coming semester! We’ll all do fantastically!