By Toni Walker
Congrats, y’all! We’ve officially wrapped up the first week of the fall semester. While I’m sure many of us are still a bit mentally checked out, it’s only a matter of time before reality forces us to check back in. Don’t worry! You aren’t alone. Not only can we get through this, but we will THRIVE through this. Whether you’re a new student or returning student, a little guidance here and there is always of value. Below are a few back-to-school tips to help get us back into the swing of things:
Finesse Free Books
Rather than carry the heavy financial burden of buying required textbooks, seek out the various resources here on campus. While many of us have already figured out different way to finesse free books, some of these opportunities may be new to freshmen. One major source is the Greenfield Intercultural Center on 37th and Chestnut. They have a library of textbooks which students can rent and use for FREE. Another available source is Penn Library where you can access physical and/or digital copies of required books. If you can’t find affordable options in those places, ask around! There is someone out there who took the class before you so work hard to find them.
Be Aware of Add/Drop Period!
Perhaps some of us had to learn this one the hard way. But it’s a new year and it’s never too late to turn a new page. The add/drop period will come and go without much noise if you let it. But I’m here to let you know. The last day to add a class is SEPTEMBER 17. The last day to drop a class is OCTOBER 8. If you foresee yourself getting too stressed or overwhelmed by a course, drop it before it’s too late. If there is a class that both interests you and fulfills a requirement, consider adding it or replacing it with a class that you no longer want to take. This is what it means to take responsibility of your education.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin
This is something we’re all still learning and struggling with. Between the pressure of being a Black Ivy League student and the pre-professional culture that dominates this campus, the pressure to participate in every possible activity is real. However, this can have detrimental consequences to both mental health and academic success. When choosing your extracurriculars, the rule should be QUALITY over QUANTITY. Invest your time and energy to the things that truly matter to you, not just the things that look good on your resume. Ultimately, the more passionate you are about an activity, the more value that activity will add to your livelihood and future.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help BEFORE it Gets Rough
The worst feeling is when you get to the middle of the semester and realize that all of the little struggles you’ve experienced along the way have accumulated into a seemingly insurmountable summit. Don’t let it get to this point. Reach out to others who have taken the class, sign up for a tutor, talk to your TA’s or professor. And do all of this as soon as you recognize any hint of struggle or confusion. Practicing this kind of proactive behavior can help prevent some of the stress that tends to hit hard around finals time. This same energy can be applied to your mental health. Don’t wait until you’re feeling really stressed or down to seek out a therapist. Instead, seek one out ahead of time in order to combat spiraling.
You Deserve to Be Here
Last but not least, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you deserve to be here. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to each other whether we intend to or not. This can easily turn into self loathing or lack of confidence in general. Don’t allow this negativity to invade your space. Celebrate yourself and your uniqueness everyday and know that you add value and light to every place you enter.