A Panther’s guide to transitioning back to campus

Photo by Trent Legaspi | The Signal

As the cold weather slowly goes away and students start returning to campus after a long, restful winter break, the atmosphere is often filled with a mix of anticipation and nervous energy. This is the time when everyone is gearing up to dive back into their academic world, but it’s not always easy to shift gears and get back into the swing of things. Here are some practical tips to help you find your groove and make the most of your time back on campus.
1. Be easy on yourself!
First and foremost, it’s important to give yourself a grace period to adjust. After weeks of holiday festivities and relaxation, it’s only natural to feel out of sync with the academic rhythm you once had. There’s no need to pressure yourself to jump straight into full-on study mode the moment you step back on campus. Take a few days, or even a week, to get acclimated to your surroundings, settle into your new class schedule and understand your responsibilities for the semester.
2. Prioritize your physical/mental health.
Another thing that students often forget to acknowledge is that it’s crucial to prioritize your health. The direct correlation between a student’s physical well-being and academic performance cannot be overstated. The start of the new year and new semester is always a great time to develop a routine. A regular sleep schedule, balanced and healthy meals and regular exercise can go a long way in helping you feel more focused, alert and energized. Make sure you’re taking care of your body so you can take care of your studies. This might mean setting a strict bedtime (even on weekends), eating at regular meal times and setting aside time each day for physical activity.
3. Organizing your living space!
Another important (and fun) aspect of settling back into campus life is organizing your living space, whether you’re in a dorm, campus apartment or even living back at home! An uncluttered, organized room can significantly impact your productivity levels, making you feel more focused and less stressed. This could be as simple as arranging your desk, changing your aesthetic and decoration, sorting out your wardrobe or finally doing that deep clean you’ve been putting off. Plus, arranging your space is a great opportunity to make your dorm room feel more homely and comfortable—think fairy lights, photos of loved ones or even a few indoor plants.
4. Plan and set goals for the new semester
Finally, it’s time to make a plan. This involves setting realistic and achievable goals for the semester, creating a study schedule that works for you and understanding how to prioritize your responsibilities. This will help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed and it will give you a clear vision of what you want to achieve by the end of the semester. Be it improving your grades, participating in an extracurricular activity or mastering a new skill, your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).

Creating a study schedule that works for you is also part of the plan. A personalized study schedule takes into consideration your most productive times of the day, your course load and other commitments. It ensures that you allocate adequate time for each subject or task and prevents last-minute cramming. You might want to incorporate techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique (25-minute study sessions followed by a 5-minute break) or active recall and spaced repetition for effective learning.

These steps will help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed. They give you a clear vision of what you want to achieve by the end of the semester and a roadmap to get there. Planning and organization are key to managing your workload and maintaining a healthy balance between your academic and personal lives.
5. Embrace your mental health
While focusing on your academic goals, it’s equally important to pay attention to your mental health. College life can be quite stressful and ignoring your mental well-being can lead to burnout. Make sure to take regular breaks, engage in activities that you enjoy and don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Georgia State offers mental health resources, including counseling and wellness workshops. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and taking care of your mental health is a crucial part of your overall well-being and academic success.
You’ve got this, Panther!
After speaking with a returning student, several echoed these sentiments, agreeing that these strategies greatly help them get back into their routines. “I always feel a bit disoriented when I first get back,” confessed one sophomore, Jamari Baul. “But once I start going to bed at a regular time, eating well and getting my room in order, things start to quickly fall into place.”

While it’s helpful to have tips, always remember that every student adjusts in their own time and in their own way. Some may find that they can hit the ground running, while others may need a little more time to regain their academic footing. This process is highly personal and depends on a multitude of factors, such as your personality, previous experiences and current circumstances. There’s no ‘right’ way to jump back into the semester. Be patient with yourself, and soon you’ll find yourself back in the swing of things, ready to take on the new semester with confidence.

Instead of comparing your progress to others, focus on your journey. Recognize your small victories and progress, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Maybe you managed to attend all your classes in the first week or you’ve started to establish a regular sleep schedule, or you’ve made progress in organizing your living space. These are all steps in the right direction.

Embrace the journey, and remember that your university experience is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you find yourself struggling, reach out to The Georgia State Counseling Center by visiting the office at 75 Piedmont Ave. NE, #200a, Atlanta, GA 30303, or by calling 404-413-1640.