Linsha Qi
September 14, 2015 9:51 am

The summer of 2015 was great. It brought us legalized same-sex marriage, many reimaginations of Disney princesses in modern settings, and Paul Rudd in an Ant-man suit. The hot summer nights coupled with the relaxed summer flings made this a season to remember, but alas, all good things must come to an end. As the leaves begin to fall and the days become shorter, we must say goodbye to summer and, for many of us, hello to the school year. Is it kind of a bummer to say goodbye to outdoor barbecues and hello to textbooks? Sure. But don’t worry! In a few months, you’ll be happy to be in school again, excited to learn new things and see your friends every day. It’s just the transition from summer to fall that’s hard. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Reset your sleep schedule

This is probably both the easiest and hardest thing to do on this list. During the summer, students (at least this one) have the tendency to fall into weird, unnatural sleeping habits. Does waking up after noon sound familiar to you? Yep, thought so. No worries there: Students, especially those in high school, have been shown to develop chronic sleep deprivation during the school year, so catching up on your zzz’s when you have the time to do so is not only reasonable, but also good for you.

However, when it comes time for a return to that unforgivingly early  7–8 a.m. class, sleeping as late as you did during the summer isn’t an option. So it’s time to try to reset the old internal clock. Increase the earliness by increments if this is easier for you, or just go cold turkey if that would be more effective. Being well-rested in the middle of the school year is incredibly difficult, so make sure you get enough sleep at least at the beginning of the year.

Alternate between homework and fun

The hardest part about returning to school is the homework. No one wants to do a bunch of reading or math problems when they get home from an 8-hour day packed with learning, but unfortunately homework is a thing. Not only that, homework is actually super effective and great for helping the concepts sink in. So, even though it sucks, it’s good for us. The truth hurts.

To make homework-doing easier, don’t cut out your summer habits entirely just yet; alternate between the two. Got really into playing music or going swimming during your three-month break? Don’t let the fun stop just because you’ve got worksheets to fill out! Combine the two. Set up small rewards for yourself: two hours of homework earns you two hours of free time, five math problems earns you five minutes to play with your dog, etc. Slowly but surely, you’ll feel more and more accustomed to setting aside time for work, without feeling as though the fun that accompanied your summer had to end abruptly.

Make hangouts into study sessions

Summer is all about the increased free time, and that free time was often spent with our best buddies. If you were essentially living at your friend’s house all summer, you know how difficult it is to break the habit and actually sit in your house alone, doing homework instead. So, don’t stop hanging out! Whether it is a collaborative project, a study session, or just group work, you can easily turn these school-related shared experiences into hangouts with your friends. Make it a sleepover where you all spend some time doing work, even helping each other, and then end the night with snacks and a movie. Just because school starts doesn’t mean the hangouts stop.

Buy motivational school supplies

Maybe this is because I’m an organization-holic, but buying school supplies was always my favorite part about the back-to-school season. I loved to buy pencils that matched the same pink of my folders, and correspond the colors of my notebooks to specific subjects (science has been and always will be green). I was so drawn in by the idea of using all these matching school supplies that the idea of going back to school became acceptable, almost exciting.

Maybe this method will work for you. If carefully selected colors aren’t your thing, maybe cute animals or minimalist designs are. Perhaps you want this year’s theme to be Hogwarts or Narnia. Anything that gets you excited will work!

Set a goal for the school year

Goal-setting is a proven, effective way to conjure up productivity. Once you decide that you want to work towards something, the motivation will come easily and you will naturally feel compelled to get started. With this in mind, set a goal for the new school year. It can be as simple as, “I’m going to raise my hand at least once in all of my classes” or as ambitious as, “I’m going to get the highest GPA possible and join 5 student organizations.” Once you set a goal, make sure you track it so it can continue to motivate you, even when exam season rolls around and the going gets hard. Write your goal on a sticky note and tack it in front of your desk; make yourself a progress bar so you can record every small step you make towards reaching your goal; give yourself a reward if you make your goal and remind yourself of that reward every night before you sleep. These are just some basic ideas– anything is great as long as it works for you!

It’s hard to say good-bye to those summer days, but as much as we enjoyed it, it could only last so long. Time to snap back into reality and make the best of this school year. Good luck!

[Image via Universal Pictures]

Related:

The weird and wonderful smells of going back to school

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