Going to college is stressful, exciting, challenging and hopefully fun. You must start your college career with a good understanding of study skills and a strong base of academic knowledge. Those are givens. What many new students don’t understand is that there are many factors that will affect your success outside of whether you know how to create and use an awesome set of flashcards.
With over 40% of students dropping out of 4-year institutions every year, finding ways to increase your chance of graduating should be a priority. Here are a few tips that might help if you give them a shot.
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Sleep Anywhere Except in Class
College students are notoriously sleep-deprived. People have come to accept this as the norm, a rite of passage. However, getting enough sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining good brain health, and it affects both short-term and long-term memory. It is a mistake to think of sleep as optional.
Make sleep a priority by setting up a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. You should shoot for at least seven hours of sleep a night, but even six regularly is better than pulling all-nighters throughout the week and then crashing for 24 hours on the weekend.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the value of a power nap. Even 20-minute naps can provide significant benefits to mood and memory. So if you’ve got time between classes or a lecture is unexpectedly canceled, grab a quick nap. Anywhere will do; in your car, in an empty classroom, in a chair in the student union or in the back stacks of the library.
Party On – Occasionally
Your parents will likely tell you to keep your nose in your books and to avoid partying at all costs. That isn’t realistic. Social activities, sports events and hanging out with friends are a part of the college experience. You’ll undoubtedly have friends who will want you to go out with every night. That’s not a good idea either. As with most things in life, moderation is the key.
Consider limiting late-night social events to Friday or Saturday evenings. This way, you reserve your week for studying and you have Sunday to focus on schoolwork and get yourself back on that all-important sleep schedule. A little restraint goes a long way and will allow you to experience all that college has to offer while maintaining your health and academic progress.
Exercise More Than Just Your Brain
You won’t need to worry about brain exercises during your four years in school, but you might need to figure out ways to get in some physical exercise. Physical health has a direct connection to a high-functioning brain and a positive outlook. Consider using some of your elective credits to take a dance or fitness class. If your school has a gym, make using it a part of your schedule. Even just walking or biking to class can be helpful. Don’t neglect your body while you fill your brain.
Find a Way To Chill Out
Stress is no joke for college students and can lead to some serious mental health issues. You need to find a way to relax and chill out on a regular basis. Simple stress-relieving activities like tapping or guided mindfulness meditation can be very effective. You can get an app on your phone for either of these. If you have access to some kind of moving meditation like yoga or tai chi, you can take care of the need for exercise and stress relief with a single activity. Getting out into nature has proven calming benefits. If you find yourself overwhelmed with stress, don’t hesitate to use your school’s mental health services.
Completing a degree takes more than academic prowess. To be a successful college student, make sure you are getting as much sleep as possible, balancing your social and academic pursuits and taking care of your physical and emotional well-being. Balance, moderation and a focus on self-care are essential.