In this article I am going to try and avoid all those back to school clichés that so many of you are sick of. Instead, I want to offer you 6 simple back to school tips that worked for me and that I believe will help you this semester one way or another! Why is any of this advice beneficial? Well, if you’re reading this you are about to commence the new term, something I did a grand total of 20 times. That includes junior school, senior school and university not to mention over 5 subsequent years in the tech and learning industry. Throw in my love of sport and you have a grand melting pot of experience through trial and error.
- It’s that time of year again
- New year, fresh start
- Out with the old in with the new
- Start off on the right foot
Expect NOT to find any of the aforementioned clichés in this blog post, if you do… I will complete your homework for a month. Additionally, if you’re hoping to see a list of tips like, ‘which back pack to use’ or ‘how best to shine your shoes’, you better close this blog immediately. At ExamTime I like to think we are a bit more hip than that. My back to school tips are personal and they have worked for me time and time again. So, without further ado, lets get started.
#1 Tune In
“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.” – Pretty Deep stuff from Johnny Depp but there’s not one of us that can argue what he means. I can safely say music helped me get through the exams I have taken over the years. Music can calm the soul or sharpen the mind. Considering this, I recommend you put together a study playlist. A collection of songs or music that can ease you into a relaxed state when quiet time is needed. In fact, as I write this post, I am listening to ‘Ludovico Einaudi‘ on my Spotify work playlist. Feel free to listen in. While we are on the topic of music, invest in a good set of earphones too. It doesn’t matter if you are going back to school or university there are 101 reasons headphones are a great back to school tip. Long walks to class, needing some ‘alone time’ on the bus in the morning or simply drowning out the racket in a college dorm. My tool of choice are the Ironman Yurbuds. What are yours?
#2 Be Comfortable
Another valuable back to school tip of mine is footwear. I’m not going to tell you what I wore to school in my day, but what I will tell you is the importance of something comfortable. Any of you out there that play sport, or dance, or hike or do basically anything that impacts your feet will understand this importance. Why should school be any different? Many of you will walk to school, some will take the bus and others will cycle. From the simple act of walking to the possibility of rain fall (a regular feature here in Ireland), trust me when I tell you the right footwear is essential. Feeling uncomfortable in class can make for a long day. In fact quote me on it when your class mate is sitting next to you with wet socks on, then thank me afterwards. Its worth mentioning that style does not have to fall victim to comfort.
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When I speak of focus, I mean the type of focus that can only be leveraged by a good night’s sleep. If sleep and rest is required for the worlds top athletes to excel, why is learning any different? You are simply flexing a different muscle. Personally I am an ‘8 hour a night’ man. This means that anything less and I become very difficult to work with the following day, (ask my colleagues). What it does mean though, is that quality sleep is essential for focus. Dragging yourself through the day because you spent a few extra hours on your iPad last night will only agitate your teacher and leave you feeling rough. Use an app like ‘sleep cycle‘ to monitor how well you sleep and be extra disciplined when you go to bed. It will pay off by the end of term.
In 2008 my favourite radio journalist delivered our graduation speech. In it he spoke about the importance of planning and that speech has stuck with me ever since. He used to arrive at broadcasts hours before everyone in order to have everything in place. You should be no different. Being ultra prepared means being successful. It doesn’t matter if that’s something as small as laying out your uniform the night before school or having your work completed in advance of its deadline. All I’m saying is adopt some form of structure and planning to your academic year and watch how much easier things become.
This can easily be managed by using an online study planner.
#5 Go Digital
This is the future and it is the way things are going so be prepared. Being digitally competent will give you an immediate advantage going into the labour force later in life. In my day computer classes were optional and I watched as people opted for other classes, wondering was I making the right choice. Those people confessed to being less prepared than the rest of us (in most cases) when it came to job applications and skill set. On top of that, going digital really makes things more manageable. From the weight of your bag to the amount of storage you will free up at your desk and in your locker, you will honestly feel far less restricted. Naturally with this comes its own concerns such as security issues and backing up files. But these are minor areas for concern and are very easily managed. Refer back to #3 (planning) and you will have no issues with your new digital life. Click the ‘Go Digital‘ button below to begin learning, studying and sharing notes online using ExamTime.
#6 Enjoy It
Here’s a Baz Lurman-esque tip. Some of you will have already closed this page down on seeing this final back to school tip. For those who have not, congratulations, you have an inner depth that I respect. That or you genuinely enjoy learning, either way, go you! School days are not around forever. Some of the friends I made at school are still my friends today and in many cases they have been with me through many of my challenges. Try (as much as you can) to enjoy them. I can honestly say that the moment I walked outside into the grounds of my junior school, secondary school and University, something inside me wished for one more day in the old buildings. They truly are the best days of your life (cliché intended). These days will mould you, shape you and introduce you to the fun, wonderful, cold, harsh, unforgiving, exciting (and more) ways in which this world works. If I could go back and do one thing different, I’d try harder to enjoy my school days rather than reject them.
As I said at the beginning, this article was being written from a personal angle. My back to school tips may not resonate with you in the slightest. If thats the case then please share your back to school tips with us. If you did take anything from what I have said, please share this post and continue to follow ExamTime. Have a great year. – Philip