You’ve been accepted, transferred your credits, and enrolled. So right about now you may be thinking there’s not much more to do before your first class starts.
But there is.
One of the keys to success as a student is understanding that school starts well before the first day of class. Here are some things you can work on between now and then that will help prepare you to get the most from your education.
IDENTIFY YOUR LIFE GOALS AND PRIORITIES.
- Let your values lead you. In order to get the most out of your school experience, step back and think about what it’s all for. Ask yourself: What are your personal values, core beliefs, and standards? How do you derive happiness and meaning from life?
- Find a dream job that’s right for you. If you’re undecided on a career path, imagine a dream job in the context of your values, beliefs and standards. Once you’ve identified your dream job or industry, then find out what working in that position or company really entails.
- Does your perception = reality? Do your homework to find out if your perception of a job or career matches reality. Job shadow or set up an informational interview. Ask about things like work conditions, schedules, pay, and the risks and rewards of the job. You can use that information to make a well-informed decision about whether a particular job or career path is right for you.
- Do a deeper dive. Spend some time doing research. What’s the long-term outlook for jobs in your career field? What are the requirements for specific jobs?
MAKE AN EDUCATIONAL PLAN.
- What are the requirements? When you feel confident about your ultimate career goal, think about exactly what kind of education you’ll need to achieve it, and how those requirements match up with your strongest skills and talents. This will help you identify weaknesses and skills gaps, and keep you academically focused on the things that are key to your success.
MANAGE YOUR TIME AND MONEY.
- Put first things first. Whether in your personal or school life, being able to prioritize will save you time, money, and a lot of stress. Learn to discern between need and want, and let your goals lead you. For example, you might really want those $150 shoes, but in the bigger picture of things, it might be more important to put that money towards tuition.
- Make a list. Really. You probably juggle a lot of things every day, but writing tasks down will help bring the things that are really important clearly into focus. And that will help you make the most of your time.
- Actively manage your money. Adding school life into an already busy schedule can make staying on top of your finances even more challenging. But you can minimize stress and potential setbacks while you’re in school (and long after you graduate) by doing a few key things: make a budget and stick to it; make time to balance your checkbook; and mind those credit card balances.
TAKE CARE OF YOU.
- Make yourself a priority. Life is demanding enough, and now you’re adding school into the mix. Embrace the truth that you really can’t do it all, at least not all at once. As you prioritize the most important things in your life, don’t forget to include making time for yourself. Whether that means working out, going to church, spending time with family, or scheduling an empty afternoon – you’ll be happier, healthier, and ultimately more successful if you do.
- Go with your flow. When are you most productive? Are you a morning person, or do you kick into high gear after midnight? Everyone has their own rhythm and specific periods of peak productivity. Recognize when you’re at your best, and take advantage of that time.
- Stick to the basics. Take the advice you’d give your friends and loved ones: eat well and get plenty of sleep. It’ll make everything else seem easier.
ASK FOR HELP.
- Get expert advice. You may be fiercely independent or used to other people coming to you for help. When you’re a student, however, it’s important to take advantage of the guidance that’s available to you, right at your school. From financial aid and admissions to course planning and career development, your school will have specialized staff to help you navigate each part of the student experience.
- Things you might not expect. In addition to the more straightforward questions and issues, your school will have advisors on hand to help you with things like what to do if you need to move, how to find a part-time job, internship programs, study abroad opportunities, and ways to graduate early.
While some of these to-dos may seem obvious, they are often the easiest to overlook. To set yourself up for the greatest success as a student and beyond, spend some time with these exercises – most of which can be done from the comfort of your own couch.
Do you dream of finishing your education? Learn how Strayer University’s support services can help you get there.