Back to School Tips: From Summer to Classroom

Students have jumped over the first and most important figurative hurdle of higher education—choosing a school—but the next battle is actually starting classes. It’s not easy to jump from poolside relaxation that the summer months bring to brain-stimulating lectures in anatomy, public speaking or statistics…but here are some tips, from Rasmussen College to make your brain go from zero to hero.

transitioning from summer break to school

1)      Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

Though college students are not hovered over by parental units managing their bedtime—they must still employ similar sleep hygiene from when they were a young lad or lassie. Student Success Coordinator for the Rasmussen College- Rockford, IL college campus, Mary Bracius suggests, “A week or two before school starts, train your body for your school schedule. Stay consistent with your bedtime—whether your lights are out at 9, 10 or 11 p.m.—aim for a good (and consistent) 7-8 hours of sleep.”

2)      Pencil it in.

Similar to developing a sleep schedule, students should create a calendar to ensure that they are in a state of emotional homeostasis throughout the school year. Rasmussen College Student Services Coordinator Annie Goddard advises that students should, “Purchase a planner or utilize a cell phone calendar application to track and manage their schedules.” She goes on to suggest “scheduling time to study and time for yourself, just as you would block off time for an actual engagement.”

3)      Develop tools to manage stress levels.

Goddard asserts, “One instrument for success is making sure the student focuses time and energy on each of their major priorities—including school, work, and personal life. Just as human resource professionals suggest taking advantage of a vacation and tuning out work—your body and brain need the same balance between work and play as a college student.

4)      Connect with peers in your major and/or classes.

Networking can apply to not only the business world—but also academia. Goddard recommends that connecting with fellow pupils is smart because it can, “Provide a net to bounce ideas around for future class projects or papers—and also gets your brain in gear for stimulating academic discussions.” If you have an undecided major, explore occupations and careers at

5)      Buy classroom essentials.

At least three weeks before school starts, college co-eds should shop for essential supplies. Notebooks, laptops, resource books, software, lab equipment, and calculators—are all intrinsic to the classroom experience. Students shouldn’t wait until the last minute to grab college essentials because it will cause unnecessary stress.  

6)      Get fiscally fit.

The U.S. Department of Education suggests learning your P’s and Q’s of financial literacy. Often times in the beginning of a post-secondary education, students have a lot of bills that heap up quickly and little experience with managing money. Learning "fiscal fitness", according to the U.S. Department of Education, means practicing smart money management techniques. Educating yourself on student aid assistance, managing credit cards, watching ATM fees, and making a self-imposed budget of food and entertainment expenses are all integral aspects of fiscal fitness. Online resources, like is a great place to start learning about fiscal fitness.

7)      Square away your life outside of school.

Bracius proposes students should, “Square away extraneous necessities like parking, childcare (if applicable), gym memberships, and even housing. Doing this will allow students to have stronger focus while in the classroom.” The U.S. Government provides a great list of online resources for college essentials on

8)      Train your brain.

If you are in a job where you are not exercising your brain cells—whip out last year’s books to spark your memory with what you learned the previous academic year. Can’t find your books? Read the newspaper or engage in a debate over a news blog. “Reengaging your brain synapses prior to coming back to school can make the dreaded first week of school way easier because you are mentally on top of your game,” maintains Goddard.

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2010). The Condition of Education 2010 (NCES 2010-028), Indicator 21.

U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid. (2010)

U.S. Department of Education, (2010)

Career One Stop, Explore Careers. (2010)

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