Fall is a period of transition. In most places, cooler fall weather means leaves in beautiful shades of red and orange, making the world look like a picture-perfect New England college campus. In Atlanta, we seem to skip straight to grey skies, frigid temperatures, and bare trees. If we’re lucky, some dead leaves might even litter the ground until the weekly deluge sweeps them all away. Regardless, this shift from summer also signals the start of school, a time marked by transition, as everyone tries to readjust to school routines, a new grade, and a new set of expectations.
As any upperclassman will tell you, this period of transition is made doubly intense by the looming presence of college. But beyond that, acclimating to all the change is hard and most students (and teachers) cite fall as their most stressful and busiest time of year.
Here are some tips on surviving.
1. Set aside time for a leisure activity around your due dates.
Binge watching the latest season of your favorite show, movie nights, overnight trips, a night out with some friends, or just a day doing nothing. Whatever you choose, it’s important to surround your high intensity periods with some time to relax. Plus, having these fun events to look forward to after you meet a deadline is great motivation.
2. A wise grandmother once told me that “you can do anything you set your mind to.”
This means that you WILL get into and go to college, if that’s what you want to do. Trust me, I know this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll stop stressing (especially about college) but hopefully remembering this will decrease the pressure some.
When you’ve got a seemingly never-ending pile of work, it’s important not to waste your time. If it’s not a today problem then don’t worry about it.
4. Realize that you’re not alone.
Misery loves company. When you’re feeling less than great, it’s somehow reassuring to know that so is everyone else. We’re only human after all. Rather than commiserating by yourself, get a group of friends together to study or make a pact to work till a certain time then all go catch a movie or something. Company and support make the work more bearable.
5. Don’t let residual stress get to you. Stick to your goals.
When everyone around you seems on edge, it’s easy to get extra stressed simply by hearing what everyone else is doing that you’re not. Don’t let that bother you. Remember, your best is not always the same as your friend’s best. Everyone has different goals and priorities and circumstances, so comparing your progress to your friends’ isn’t always productive. Instead, focus on achieving what you set out to do at your own pace, as much as possible.
6. Don’t underestimate yourself.
Give yourself credit. Self-doubt can prevent you from realizing your full potential and taking advantage of all the opportunities presented to you. For underclassmen, realize that you are often capable of doing more than you initially think you can. For seniors, think of your college apps as a way to show off all you’ve done over the past few years. Trust me, you’ve done more than you think.
7. Remember that college is not judgment day.
This applies to everyone, from the freshman already planning college trips, to the senior agonizing over the Common App. There is life beyond your formal education. College is just a stepping stone to the rest of your life.