Today’s post is part of Freshmen 15, a year-long blog series that will explore 15 topics traditional undergraduate students often face during their first year of college. Trevecca students, faculty and staff members will weigh in over the course of the academic year as we examine loneliness, living with roommates and more.
As the adrenaline of the first few weeks of college wears off and the anticipation of mid-terms builds, it is easy for freshmen to enter panic mode. As impossible as it may seem, attaining a balanced, college lifestyle is achievable. We asked Allison Hall and a few other members of the Trevecca community for some of their best tips and tricks for freshmen students.
Allison Hall has had to learn how to master time management and balance within her life. She is currently double majoring in biology and chemistry (as well as double minoring in psychology and religion), a resident hall assistant, a teaching assistant, co-leading the Prayer Warriors group, involved in multiple intramural sports and serves as a science tutor. In her spare time, Hall is a strong advocate for naps. Here are four of her recommendations for surviving (and thriving) in a chaotic academic season:
1. Use a planner.
Just as the name may suggest, planners are perfect for visually representing what lies ahead in your academic period. “I highly recommend using a planner and scheduling out your life so you can see when assignments are coming up,” Hall said. “You can get ahead on things when necessary, and things won’t all catch up to you at the same time.” Pick a planner that best suits your needs—there are plenty of options and great ways to customize one to fit your goals.
2. Set aside time to study.
“Even though that’s hard to keep up with,” Hall recommends setting aside an hour or two a day for doing homework—before hanging out with friends or doing other social activities. Completing responsibilities will make hanging out with friends more enjoyable and will save students from late-night stress, she says.
3. Sleep. No, really. Sleep.
“The time that you spend working on things will be more efficiently spent if you have a sound mind," Hall says. Memory storage happens during REM sleep, Hall says, so if students don’t sleep, all the things they spent hours studying may not be stored in their long-term memory. Sophomore international student Marcela Castro, a special education major with a music minor, agreed with Hall. “Even if you organized all you had to do perfectly, you wouldn't be able to get everything done if you haven't had good sleep,” she said.
4. Create space for self-care.
As easy as it is to get lost in the stress of college, Hall recommends taking time for self-care, hanging out with friends and taking part in activities that leave you feeling peaceful and content. Abby Nesbitt, a counselor at the Trevecca Counseling Center, says learning to balance priorities is something many students struggle with. She recommends that freshmen make a point to connect with their LINK groups and take part in campus organizations. “Campus groups … help [students] connect with people who are similar to them, and I think that helps them put other things into perspective,” Nesbitt said. She also recommends students dedicate time for themselves amid their other priorities. "A visual that I like to use for my clients is a pie,” she said. “There are little slices of this pie, and the whole pie can't be dedicated to one thing. Always ensure there is a big enough slice of pie just for you.”