- Take at least one day a week off for a little self-love. I didn’t figure this out nearly early enough but it honestly saved my sanity once I did. No one can go pedal to the metal forever. Burnout is real and it’s inevitable if you don’t take some time to enjoy life as it’s passing you by. I recommend making a list of your favorite activities you wish you had more time for and optimizing your Saturday or Sunday by taking time to literally stop and smell the roses. My favorite way to do this was usually to wake up early on a Saturday and get a good run in then grab a great cup of coffee and explore the city, go hiking, try a new restaurant, get a pedicure etc. I usually found that by the time Sunday came around and it was time to be productive again, I had a relatively clear head to accomplish whatever I needed to before classes resumed on Monday.
- Look for free resources & don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everything in life worth having takes a good amount of effort and college isn’t the exception, but the harsh reality is that good grades can have a significant impact on the opportunities (co-ops, internships, and full-time job offers) available to you. I took advantage of TA & professor office hours, the school’s tutoring center, and the Academic Success Center which helped me create a schedule to better manage my time. Then, I swallowed my pride and I asked classmates who quickly grasped the material to explain it to me. The fact of the matter is that most people are surprisingly open to helping-you just need to ask (and sometimes offering money for their time doesn’t hurt either). Further, some professors take note of who has been to office hours and truly shown effort when determining a final grade that is close enough to round up or down.
- Eat well, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Taking care of your physical health can have monumental impacts on all the other aspects of your life. Eating well-balanced healthy meals throughout the day instead of that 2pm candy bar from the vending machine as you’re running to the next class is a great step in the right direction. Planning and cooking meals ahead and bringing them with in a lunchbox was my favorite way to stay on track. Also make sure you’re drinking plenty of water-no energy drinks don’t count! I recommend 1/2-1 full gallon of water a day. Carrying a water bottle to refill can help. Lastly, do not pull all-nighters. I repeat. No all-nighters. A late night here and there is fine. If you’re a night owl, staying up late is fine as long as you have the time to sleep a full 6-8 hours afterwards. After making it through 6 years of engineering courses, research, a work study job, marathon training, etc. without doing so, I honestly don’t see the value. Most nights I got 5-6 hours of sleep a night and while that wasn’t optimal, I can tell you the rare nights I got 3-4, I woke up feeling terrible and not having accomplished much more than if I had pulled the plug and gotten a few more hours of sleep. I see it as a case of the law of diminishing returns. Do your best to plan ahead and start assignments, projects, and studying early.
Do you have any tips you swear by? I’d love for you to share them with me in the comments. Be well and keep reaching for the stars!