There are several mistakes you can make when starting school. Some can just affect your productivity while others can be costly. Having graduated from high school and currently attending university, I have been a student for quite a while now. I have made these mistakes and I want to warn other students about them so that they can start school off right. These are the top 5 mistakes to avoid for back to school.
Table of Contents
#1 Not Reading the Syllabus
The first mistake to avoid is not reading the class syllabus. Going into a new class with just knowing the name of the class is not the best idea. The least you should do is skim the class syllabus and figure out the name of the professor and method of teaching (group projects, lectures, etc.) so that you can have an idea of what to expect. Otherwise, it will be hard to keep up in a class where you have no idea where the professor is heading.
After the first day of class, you should read the syllabus more carefully. It’s a good idea to download it to your device or print it out and keep it somewhere you can check it regularly . You should take note of all test dates, holidays and days off, and big assignment dates. Plus a syllabus normally contains the contact information of the professor, in case you need to contact them.
#2 Buying the Textbooks Before Classes Start
The second mistake to avoid is buying the textbooks before school starts. I have made this mistake too many times and I have lost a lot of money due to it.
In my first semesters of university, as soon as the professor uploaded the syllabus, I would look at the required textbooks. First I would look them up and see if I could find them for cheap or even free. If that didn’t work, then I would go ahead and by them at full price. My thinking was that since it was required, I would have to get it sooner or later so why not buy it now and get ahead in class. However this was not always the case.
There were times where the professor changed the required book in the syllabus after I had already bought the other book. Other times, I would attend the class and the professor would say that we don’t really need the book. Saying that he just had to include a textbook in his class syllabus. Or sometimes the professor would change his mind about requiring a text book. So we would never have to use it since he would hand out all the required texts. There was even a class I signed up for and bought the textbook, but ultimately I dropped it, thus never using the textbook.
I now have several books that I never ended up using, which feels like such a waste of money.
My advice is to NOT BUY THE TEXTBOOK BEFORE THE CLASS STARTS. Unless the professor explicitly says that you will need the book on the first day of class, then don’t buy it. On the first day of class, the professor will tell you if you need to buy the textbook or not. Plus even if it takes some time for the book to arrive, the professor will normally give you some time.
# 3 Starting the Semester With a Bad Sleeping Schedule
Starting your day tired and unmotivated due to lack of sleep sucks so much. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to school in the morning, been so tired that during lectures I just doze off and end up not paying any attention. Those types of days are so unproductive since I’m too tired to really do anything, especially pay attention in class.
The reason why I am so tired to begin with is because of a bad sleeping schedule. It is really hard to wake up early in the morning for class when you sleep at 3 am. Not only does it distract you in school, it is just plain bad for your health.
The best thing to do is try to get back on a good sleeping schedule around 2 weeks before school starts. You don’t have to start sleeping early from day one, just gradually try adjusting your sleeping schedule. So if you normally sleep at around 2 am, then try to sleep at 1 am for a few days, then next another hour earlier. Doing this will take some time, which is why you should start a few weeks before school, but it is more achievable.
# 4 Going Overboard and Buying Lots of School Supplies Before Class Starts
This is another costly mistake I have made many times, especially back in high school. I would get so excited for going back to school, that I would want to buy all new school supplies.
I would buy ruled paper, highlighters, folders, and just any school supplies I could find in my local Walmart. Any school supplies I couldn’t find, I would buy them on Amazon. The last time I went on a school supplies shopping spree was towards the end of high school. I bought so many school supplies that even years later, I still have many unused supplies.
It also didn’t help that I have a sister that would also get really excited when starting school. And she would also want to buy many new school supplies. So it would be my sister and I wanting all new school supplies, which was not cheap. Even now, my mom is not so happy about all those unused school supplied in the house.
I recommend that you do not buy any school supplies before classes start. Although it may be tempting to get all the cute school supplies, you may not even end up using them. Especially in some classes where all you need to bring is a pencil. I would wait until the first day of class to see what supplies you will need. And once having been to the first day of your classes, you can see what type of note taking system you would want to use, so then you could buy the supplies for that too.
If you do go ahead and buy school supplies before school starts, I recommend you buy 3 things, a planner, a notebook, and a writing tool. A planner to get organized, a notebook in where to write all the stuff the teachers talks about during the first day, and a writing tool to write that stuff down.
#5 Starting School Unorganized and Unprepared
One of the worst things you could do when starting school back again is being unorganized and unprepared. Being unprepared and organized could mean a lot of things, but for me it is…
- not knowing around when my important exams are
- still not having organized my devices (computer, iPad) for the new semester
- having no idea of how my daily schedule will be like for the new semester
- not knowing my timetable
My solution to this is a planner! As I mentioned before if you do decide to buy school supplies before the start of school, one of them should be a planner.
I always look at the class syllabus and add all test days, deadlines, and days off to my planner. Every day of school, I write all the homework I need to do and their deadlines. Especially now with schools conducting online classes, it is super easy to forget about deadlines, or even the times of class. Which is why you should have a planner to always write down the times of all your class and all their assignments.
During high school, I never used a planner, it wasn’t until when I was in college that I used a study planner. I loved it so much and it helped me be 100x more productive than I ever was in high school. Now every semester for school, I use my digital study planner to stay organized and ahead on my homework. There is also a post on how I use my digital study planner on my iPad during the school semester.
I hope sharing what I have learned from these mistakes has helped you. Hopefully more students will avoid these mistakes when going back to school.