Getting Back in Stride: Scheduling

                Most everyone is familiar with that sinking feeling that hits you and worms its way down into the gut at the end of a break or vacation: the realization that classes are starting back up soon and you will have to be attending them. For some this is bittersweet, having to say goodbye to old friends and family while you bid farewell to the carefree niceties of sleeping in and relaxing over the long break. Others look forward to returning, it is a chance to see friends again and make new ones, while you also get to continue your education and mark down another chapter in the college adventure. Either way, something that everyone must adjust to when returning is a new schedule and working with that schedule to make the semester successful for you.

                New semesters come with new classes and new levels of stress: some people have multiple classes with a mandatory lab time, others are taking recreation classes as a breather or a way to maintain sanity, while a few might have switched their schedules to accommodate more afternoon and evening classes as opposed to morning classes, or vice versa. No matter what the case, and they are numerous (unique to each and every individual), you have to find a routine that works for you. This comes down to a personal reflection on what you want to achieve: are you aiming to ace all of your classes and pull off a fantastic GPA? Did you want to spend more time hanging out and enjoying your friends, taking a bit of a reduced load this semester? Are you looking to try something new, like a sport or hobby, in the form of taking a class on the subject or spending your free time pursing it? The goal is yours and yours alone, but how will you go about achieving it? A good step, or at least a useful one, is determining what work you will have to complete each week and appropriating time for it while also balancing free time for yourself, or in other words, a schedule.

                I personally am one of those students that aims to try and ace my classes, doing the best I possibly can to achieve the best possible grade, while my goal is to graduate at the end of my fourth year here at UAF. I am currently in my second semester of my second year, and in order to stay on track I have had to buckle down on classes this semester: four three-hour lab times spread across Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and at least ten hours of class time each week spread across Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Couple that with a job here at the University and I have a bit of hectic week every Monday to Friday. I have not lost hope though, some of the classes will be difficult or a little painful, but I have devised a way to get all of my work done and still utilize my free time the way I want. I spend my Tuesday and Thursday mornings and early afternoons completing the weekly homework assignments I receive from two of my classes, and then I meet with friends on Saturday to knock out the homework and lab reports due in my other classes. This leaves me time each evening to hang out with friends or perform errands like store runs, cooking dinner, watching movies, or reading, while I also get Sunday wholly to myself and completely free of the confines and devices of school work. Is the schedule a bit grueling? Probably, but I have gotten it to work for me by factoring in work time, free time, and a personal agenda.

                Thus, as daunting as classes might be, as painful as tests and labs can become, everything is manageable. It is all about finding a stride and beat that you can step to, one that works uniquely for you and that you enjoy marching along with. If something gets too rough or painful along the way, do not be afraid to switch things up or throw in the towel if you need to. I have done both before and it made my life easier afterwards. College is supposed to be a memorable time of fun and adventure, adversity and change, so finding the schedule that works and is tailored to you is a big part. You will have friends in some classes, and you will make new ones in other classes, while all of them can be resources to help you succeed and achieve what you want to do. Above all though, college is a process: it is not all about the partying and a good time, nor is it completely about trudging through classes with your head down just trying to get everything done. It is a healthy combination of both, with the end goal being a diploma in a field of study that interests you.

               There will be good times and bad, tears and laughter, adventure and heartbreak, but it will all be memorable. A good way to keep it memorable is to find a schedule that works for you, and it will change from time to time (semester to semester, month to month, quite a few possibilities honestly). It will make the years you spend here enjoyable, and hopefully somewhere further down the line you will look at the time you spent obtaining your degree fondly as a mixture of success, adversity, and perseverance, all made possible by tossing together a schedule that worked for you.

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