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First week of school hacks and must dos

by Anthea Ariyajeyam

I think a lot of students (including myself) have felt anxious during the school year. I am always trying to save money, get good grades, find a co-op/internship position and participate in extra-curricular activities. On top of that, I still have to eat well and exercise! 

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I have always lacked in one area or another, but each year I have been able to reduce my stress by completing a few items within the first few weeks of the semester that make the rest of my year easier. Now in my final year, I think I have finally figured out what I need to do to make this year my most successful one yet, using these six hacks:

Getting organized

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One of the very first things I did in my first year was purchase an agenda and wrote down all of my deadlines for the semester. I have always been the type of person who forgets everything (I literally have a memory of a goldfish) so writing things down has always helped me stay organized. Throughout the year I felt more prepared and I was able to manage my time accordingly and it reduced A LOT of stress!

Going to the Get Involved Fair

Like many first years, I couldn’t wait to explore new things, and what better way than to attend the Get Involved Fair right on Polonsky Commons on the first day of classes. The fair is used to showcase how to get involved with the different clubs, societies and services at the university. Most of the time they asked me to follow their social media channels or sign up for their emails if I was interested, which made it easier to know what was happening on campus. BONUS: I also came home with a lot of free goodies!

If you missed the Get Involved Fair, check out the Clubs and Societies on campus by visiting the Student Union website. You can also find some leadership and volunteer opportunities on the Student Life website.

Waiting until school starts to buy school supplies

Yes, you read that correctly. At the end of my first year, I found I had extra stationery items and textbooks I didn’t even use! It made frustrated knowing that I could have spent that money on something that would have been more useful. 

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Now I buy my stationary items during the first week of school. The back-to-school shopping season is done on the first day of school, which means a lot of items are cheaper. I also buy my textbooks during the first three weeks. I learned that there are some professors that don’t use the textbooks and that evaluations are based on their lectures. So the textbook would be a waste of money for me. However, I also learned that some courses require you to buy the textbook which the professor will clearly stress for the following two weeks.

Preparing a cover letter and resume

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By my second year, I started working on my cover letter and resume to apply for jobs and co-op positions. Most of the postings begin to appear in the middle of the semester, A.K.A the most stressful time of the year. I didn’t realize how long it takes to prepare the perfect resume and cover letter, so I spent hours - during the busiest time of the school year - preparing it and attending appointments at the Career Center

Now I prepare it during the first two weeks of school because I would have just as much experience then as I would a few weeks later, and I don’t have to stress about the time spent getting it checked over by an Employment Advisor at the Career Center. It’s also way easier to get an appointment at the beginning of the semester. Then, when it’s time to apply for jobs I can shorten the time spent building a resume because I can just edit and rearrange what’s on my existing cover letter and resume.

Attending the free fitness classes

At the end of my second year, I noticed that I was always tired and cranky. Not to mention, going up the stairs would feel like I ran a marathon! So, I decided to make time for myself and go start going to the gym. 

At the beginning of third year, a friend of mine decided that they wanted to get in shape, too, and asked if I wanted to join a fitness class provided by the university. During the first week of school, fitness classes are free, so we could try multiple classes without any cost before we committed to joining one. We ended up loving and joining the Zumba class! It became the highlight of my week and it forced me to learn to manage my time more efficiently so I could fit the Zumba class in my schedule.

Opting out of insurance

This year I will be opting out of the dental and health insurance. I am very fortunate enough to be covered by one of my parents so I don’t really need it. I never did it in the previous years, which is not one of my brightest ideas. To be honest, I was too lazy to do it because I thought that it meant that I would have to do paperwork. That’s just not true. Opting out, if you already have coverage, is a great way to save extra money.

Over the years, I've figured out what works best to keep me organized and reduce my stress levels later on. If you haven't figured out what works for you yet, you will - and maybe some of these tips that work for me will work for you, too.