Editorial: Setting up for the semester

IV Leader Staff

No student is a stranger to the stress of back-to-school chaos.

Luckily, there are plenty of hacks and helpful tools online or at IVCC to ease your college experience.

Let’s say you zone out in chem class, and before you know it, the whiteboard is covered in Greek letters, complex formulas, and numbers that seemingly came from nowhere. Yeah—been there, done that. Now you’re left with a sheet of unbalanced equations and a sinking dread that you’ve picked the wrong major.

Before you panic (like I did), follow the signs to the Tutoring and Writing Center (TWC) in A-201, and you’ll be right where you need to be. The TWC offers free assistance with any subject, including essay writing. Students can schedule appointments with tutors via Accudemia on their Blackboard accounts. Walk-ins are welcome, and zoom sessions are also available.

Jane Stevenor, a professional writing tutor, described the TWC as a low-stress place for students to get the academic support they need. “It’s a welcoming space,” she said.

If tutoring isn’t for you, there are other ways to stay on top of your classes. A good rule of thumb is to make friends with the classmates on your left or right. I get it: it’s tough at first to break the ice. But knowing your peers will likely create a more comfortable environment for learning material, asking questions and offering help.

Speaking with your professor is another way to solidify your understanding of a class. Show you care about school, and your professor is more apt to care about you as a student. Remember, you pay your instructor to teach you—which includes the time they set aside for office hours. So make the most of your money! Ask questions if you’re unsure. Get to know your teacher.

Invest in a good connection—even if it’s just stopping by their door for a second at a time. Relationships with your professor can also be a smooth segue for a recommendation letter later on.

Setting up for a semester means creating a study schedule that works for you. The bookstore sells planners, but you can design them on websites like Canva or Padlet for free. Whether you budget or buy the real thing, what matters is how you manage your time. Think about how productive you are during certain times of day. Are you a night owl? Or do you write best in the morning? Are you dog tired after a day of work? If so, it’s probably best to finish your essay before starting your shift—even if the deadline is midnight and you get off at 10.

Plan ahead: know yourself and your own limits. Set attainable goals, but leave room for rest; assignments are important, but sleep is a priority, too. The National Sleep Foundation has found that 70 to 96 percent of college students sleep less than eight hours on weeknights—and that more than half sleep less than seven. Lack of sleep can lead to stress, a weakened immune system, weight gain, cloudy thinking, and even an increased risk of depression. Those symptoms can impair your college experience, especially around final exams. To avoid them, stick to a regular nighttime routine. Something as simple as brushing your teeth before bed can signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Strive for eight hours each night, and give yourself a few days to sleep in.

Shifting from summer vacation to the fall semester can be a big change, but it doesn’t have to be a hard one.

My advice? Make friends, make a schedule and make time for yourself. College is the place to learn— not just how to answer those pesky chem questions, but how to balance work, stress, sleep, and life.