We are now two months into the Fall 2019 Semester and summer break is over, but it does not feel like it. Lately, I have been struggling with getting back into the groove of things. It’s been hard saying no to fun plans my friends make, getting into the routine of managing my time, and finding the focus and motivation.

In my first two years of college, I didn’t struggle with getting back into the groove of school due to all the summer courses I would take. Since I was able to take a long break for the first time I was wondering if this may be a struggle other first gens may have? Nobody told me that getting back into the next semester would be so tough after taking a three-month break. Maybe this is why my mother worries that if I take a year or two off before grad school, I will not want to go back. 

So, I thought maybe I would share some tips I have found useful in helping me learn how to deal with getting into the groove of things:

#1 – Prioritize

I, thankfully, go to a University in my hometown, and quite a few of my friends decided to join the workforce straight after high school, which is cool…until I realize how different the life of a college student can be. When they get off work they are done for the day and they can make fun plans. When I get out of classes I still have homework and extracurricular activities like studying, office hours, volunteering and work. It is inevitable that your friends will ask you to hang out. It is very easy to say yes and go out, but it is very difficult to catch up once you fall behind since you decided to go out instead of getting the “to do’s” done. I have learned this the hard way these past few weeks. So, I have decided that I will no longer be going out to do fun stuff unless all of my work is done beforehand. Sometimes saying no to plans due to having other priorities may sting and I may feel left out, but sometimes it must be done. My advice would be to make sure to remember that we are on a different path to success and sometimes school has to be the top priority even if our friends don’t understand.

#2- Plan Ahead As Best You Can

I have recently begun to plan my day the night before to help me with my time management. I used to be able to plan for my week, but I am starting with planning for the next day. I have also begun to use Google Calendar, and that helps with beginning to get back into planning for the week to come since I can quickly have access to adding and looking at important events and reminders. One thing that has also worked for me is keeping my event planner and academic planner separate, because I have recognized that once I add both together it can look a little crazy. This method keeps me from feeling overwhelmed.

#3- Motivate Yourself By “Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize” 

I now know that getting back into focus or the grind can be mentality challenging, but here are some things that have helped me begin to get back into the right headspace. I recently sat down and wrote myself a letter reminding me that I made it to college, why I am in college, and what my goals after college are. I reminded myself of how far I have come, and I even began to make specific and broad goals for the semester and my last year (next year). Another way I’m keeping my eyes on the prize is by hanging around people who have the same goals and motivation as I do. I also talk with my family about my plans for the rest of college, and they respond with motivational speeches and the support that I need to maintain my focus. So, in short, self reflect and remind yourself of why you are in college, surround yourself with similarly focused people, and find familial support if possible. 

If you feel like you’re struggling to get it together, know that you are not the only one and that it is normal. These were some things that I recommend because they have worked for me. These are not the only ways to get back into the groove of things, but they can be a starting point. It will not be easy, but you will figure out what works best for you. Get that focus on and get motivated. We got this!