Surviving your first week back to school

Somehow summer is almost over. Or maybe it’s already over for you. This one was of those years where I was looking forward to my summer ending because I had a lot of fun things planned, both personally and professionally for the fall. I am heading back to school for my last year of my Master’s. Which truthfully could be the last year I’m in school at all. Somehow that makes me sad. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thrown around the idea of getting a PhD. However, that’s years down the road. Ya girl just really wants a salary.

Like many of you, I have been doing this ‘school’ thing for most of my life. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for your first week back. Somethings change a bit as you get older. For example if you aren’t living at home or on campus things are a bit different. Hopefully these easy hacks will help you have the best first week back ever.

Early to Bed

Chances are your summer schedule is quite different than your school schedule. Give yourself a few weeks leading up to the beginning of the school year (so start now!). Force yourself up at a normal hour so that when you have to make it to your 9 AM class, you’re awake and functioning. Even if you’ve been working normal hours this summer, you might have evening classes now. So making sure that you can manage get through a full work day AND a few hours of class starts with a good night of sleep.

Map out your classes

This is especially true if this is going to be your first time in a certain building. You don’t want to end up late for your first class because you went upstairs instead of downstairs. I did this every four years of college and every semester during my first year of grad school. I’m being extra lazy this semester and probably will risk it but I know the building well enough now. While you do this, you should also figure out how much time you have in between classes in case you need to run to get food or coffee. Planning on coffee breaks is vital to success, right?


Print your syllabi, buy your notebooks, do all of your readings. Go into your first week ahead. Don’t fall behind before things have even started. Write everything down in your planner/on your calendar. Pull out deadlines from your syllabi and put them in every calendar you use so that you don’t forget.

Talk to roommates about their schedule

If you’re living with people who are also either in school or working full time, make sure to confer with your roommates about scheduling. Find out who showers in the morning, who makes a full breakfast and who snoozes their alarm five times. And make sure everyone sticks to itIf you have the same schedule, it will be extra important that you do this. The last thing you want is to show up smelly, unfed or both. You’ll be distracted and won’t be able to focus. That will really set your semester off on the wrong foot.

Lay out your clothes the night before

I think this is the ultimate mom thing I could say, but plan out what you’re going to wear the night before. Some campuses have dress codes for their graduate students (thank you GW for not having one) so make sure you double check any rules your campus might have. If you’re gonna be gone over lunch, pack that ahead of time too. Maybe even pack your backpack/school bag with everything you’ll need for the next day.

Bring a snack/water

Speaking of…always make sure you pack snacks. Bring a reusable water bottle too. One of the worst things about being hungry in a classroom is you know everyone can hear it. Then suddenly you’re more focused on how hungry you are and not on what the professor is saying. Not good, right?

Treat yo’self!

Once you make it through the week, relax! Go out to happy hour with friends, go buy yourself a cute new top or binge Netflix for hours. You made it through your first week! That’s important! It’s also really important for you to recharge your batteries. One week down, a lot to go. Kick butt, take names and have a great semester!


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