For many of us, the school year brings the stress of new classes and meeting new people. These feelings are completely normal, and you’re not alone. I definitely felt anxious before the start of the semester. That said, we can reframe our mindset to see these experiences as opportunities to challenge ourselves and get to know others.
It wasn’t long ago that I was a student myself. My Academic Passion Planner truly helped me balance all of the responsibilities on my plate, from juggling homework assignments to off-campus obligations. The best part was that I didn’t need to give up my social life and my hobbies to do well in school, and I don’t think that you do either.
Since I’ve graduated, Passion Planner has provided so many more tools and resources to help students succeed both on and off-campus that I wish I could have used. Here are some strategies to help you move past survival mode and break into thriving mode this school year.
1. Align Goals: Passion Roadmap
Of all the advice and suggestions I share in this article, this is the one that I feel is the most valuable. While discipline and time management skills are important for academic performance, the main driving force for me during college was understanding how my schooling was connected to my overall goals for life. When my schooling was out of touch with my “why,” my academic performance was negatively impacted because there is no purpose attached to what I was doing. That is why each Passion Planner begins with the Passion Roadmap—it keeps you anchored to your vision.
As you enter this new school year, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who or what drives me to persist in my education and live my ideal life? My primary motivators were making my family proud and doing work that I was passionate about.
- What does my education mean to me? Personally, college was a time to explore and learn about myself and the world.
- How do my academic goals support my lifetime goals? I pursued a Master’s degree in Higher Education Counseling because I wanted to become a university Career Counselor. (I am now in a different career, but I still often use my experience from that degree in my current role!)
By referring to your Passion Roadmap regularly, you will see a clear connection of how the work you are putting into your education prepares for your life after college. If you are still seeking clarity, no worries! I made three career changes since I graduated before I found something that felt right. See it is an opportunity for you to reflect on how you can bridge the gap between your education and your life.
2. Find Support: Class Contacts
Finding supportive mentors and a community on campus will uplift you towards your endeavors and enrich your perspective. Though it’s been years since I graduated, I am still in contact with my favorite instructors. They supported me by writing letters of recommendation, serving as professional references, and even sharing life advice over coffee. The Class Contacts sheet helps you strengthen your academic support system. I wish that it existed when I was still a student!
Here are suggestions for people you should try to have in your inner circle, and recommendations on how to effectively communicate with them.
- Counselors: Make an appointment with an advisor or counselor on campus to ensure you are on track with your academic plan. This is critical especially if you have specific requirements to meet for a particular program or major.
- Professors: Attend office hours to ask questions about course material and build a genuine connection with your instructor. By meeting with them face to face, they are more likely to remember you and can possibly write letters of recommendation on your behalf in the future.
- Study Group Members: Manage group projects by assigning clear roles and deadlines. Group projects don’t have to be a chore if everybody is on the same page about their contributions.
- Student Organization Officers: Organize successful events and programs with ease by delegating tasks and scheduling check-in meetings. Running a student organization is no cakewalk, so practicing teamwork and open communication is important to further your organization’s mission.
- Mentors: Take note of people you look up to and who are doing the work that you want to do. What qualities do you admire about them? Make it a point to reach out to them every so often to get their input on your upcoming transitions or decisions.
3. Track Deadlines: School To-Do List
Time is always fleeting as a student—there never seems to be enough of it. The main reason I purchased a Passion Planner three years ago was because it had enough to-do lists to manage my insane schedule as a graduate student. Now you can stay ahead with the School To-Do List insert by tracking deadlines to organize assignments by subject. Before beginning my week, I write down all of my tasks to ensure that I am prioritizing effectively. After filling out the School To-Do List, schedule time in your weekly layout to complete those assignments.
Consider the following questions as you carve out time for your studies.
- What time of the day am I the most productive? I work most effectively in the morning between 5AM - 11AM.
- Do I work better under pressure or with a lot of time on my hands? For me, the sweet spot is about a week in advance, so that I am no pressed for time but there is enough pressure to keep me on task.
- Am I more effective when I work alone or with others? I realized that study groups were more distracting than helpful for me.
- What environment helps me stay productive? Coffee shops or libraries, instrumental music, and putting my phone on airplane mode are all adjustments to my environment that help me stay focused.
I truly believe that time management is more about knowing yourself than developing skills. When you understand your own needs as opposed to forcing yourself into a specific way of working, your goals are much easier to achieve!
The Passion Planner is here to support you through your academic journey, and beyond. There are so many ways to customize it for your success, from using the Habit Tracker to help manifest your goals, to using the dotted and blank pages for your study guides and exam reviews. If you are taking a language course, you can even use our Translated Passion Planner PDFs to practice your skills! Think of Passion Planner as a tool to help you embody excellence inside and outside of the classroom.
Want more ideas to stay focused this school year? Follow us on Instagram for more tips and tricks on making the most of your Passion Planner!
Paula Votendahl is a Content Marketing Specialist with Passion Planner. In her free time she enjoys eating Hot Cheetos and watching British period dramas.