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Tips for back to school and university

It’s that time of year again where everyone is either heading back to school or university. This time can be very stressful, especially if you are still receiving treatment or have difficulties from past treatments. But don’t stress too much because you are not alone! I hear you, starting school or university can get overwhelming and if you are heading back for the first time since being diagnosed with cancer it can be very nerve-racking. To make this a little less stressful and a bit easier, I have created some tips/life hacks for getting back into school, staying organised, and dealing with stress.

- Plan ahead

Before heading back to school/university it is important to plan and prepare a few weeks before returning. Doing things like buying equipment, books and stationary early can take some of the stress away knowing you have everything you need. Something I also like to do is start studying and reading textbooks before I go back to university. Not everyone will have access to the required readings and books but if you do I really recommend it. I have slower processing skills so by doing this I feel I can get a head start.

- Organise your schedule before returning

If you run a busy life you will know how important planning your schedule is. I find the best way is to buy a diary or planner early on and write everything down, when your classes are, due dates, appointments, sport/exercise, and everything in between! This really assists with the feeling of being overwhelmed by being able to see what is coming up in the next few weeks. I like to constantly update my planner with new dates and things I have to do to really keep my life organised.

- Contact your teachers to let them know about any special needs or difficulties you have

Before class returns, it is a really good idea to contact your teachers and let them know what special needs you have or any difficulties you face from treatment or post-treatment. This can really benefit you as the teachers will be aware and will be more willing and be able to help you when you need. I do this every semester after I have seen the disability services, I just send each of my teachers an email stating what I find difficult and how they may be able to help (extensions etc.).

- Find a friend

Find a friend who is attending the same school/university as you, contact them and ask if they can hang about with you until you get settled in. This can really help with the nerves around returning to class. If you don’t have any friends attending the same school/university try talking to some people in your classes on the first day, you might end up being good friends in the future!

- Ask for help

If you are struggling with something or don’t understand a certain topic, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The teachers are there so they can help you learn so they will be more than happy to assist you. If you still don’t feel comfortable asking the teacher, try asking a classmate or a friend for some help. Maybe make a coffee date to work on the specific topic or assessment together.

- Create a routine

As soon as you begin class try and create a routine for studying, going to bed etc. By getting into these routines early on in the semester it can really help when you have a load of assessments to do as you are creating a good habit. Having a study routine will also make sure that you don’t leave everything till the last minute and will keep you on track. Try writing down in a diary when you will be going to study and how long for.

- Set goals

Creating goals for yourself can be beneficial for your schoolwork. These goals don’t have to be big, they can be small goals such as “I want to do 15-30 minutes of maths homework a day”. These small goals can help you achieve bigger goals such as receiving a better grade. You can also make goals in other areas of your life like going to bed by a certain time each night or exercising for 30 minutes twice a week.

- Change study places

It can be easy to get bored of the same place, especially if its only for studying. This can decrease your motivation and slow your studying down because of distraction. Try changing up where you study every now and again. Maybe go to a quiet café or somewhere new on campus. By doing this it can really give you the motivation to get things done and you can have a little fun while you’re doing it!

- Break down bigger tasks into smaller ones

When you have a big task such as an essay to complete, its quite easy to suddenly feel overwhelmed. I found the best way to make it seem more achievable is to break it down into smaller parts. If you have a big essay, for example, break it down into the introduction, body paragraphs and then conclusion. Write different dot points on what you will be talking about under each heading. This will really give you a head start and make it a little less confusing as well.

- Write everything down

This is something that I find really important, especially if you struggle with memory problems. When you’re in class try to write everything down, this means you can go back later and look at the previous information. If you can’t keep up in class it’s also a really good idea to either print off the lecture slides or talk to the teacher about printing some of the information off so you’re not writing so much. This way you can have the information there next to you while you’re learning and you’ll have time to listen more.

They are all the tips I have for this blog but I hope you enjoy this new year full of learning, fun and I hope you smash your goals! Good luck!

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