Back to School Stresses

The back to school season is upon us! The sales signs at Staples tells us its time, the end is near. We are heading in for another school year. Preparation for school should encompass more than just buying new clothes or school supplies. Pencils, pens, and paperclips will not protect you from the stress that is about to hit. School comes with classroom chaos, panicked parties, sporting event stresses, and unpredictable triggerable encounters. Here is what I am expecting, and here is what I am doing. 

My magic 8 ball foresees a few unavoidable school situations. 

First night open season party raves

Screaming hellos, heartfelt hugs, summer downloads will consume your first few hours back. The one-upmanship of who had the better break will naturally place out its discourse. Whether it be boating in Bali or hiking the Himilyans you may feel inferior about the summer that you already wish was back. A rushed goodbye to your family (see you in 3 months!) as you leave for another friend meet and greet. Familiar faces gather, congregating on the green. Campus is buzzing and you are back in the swing of things! The day turns into evening, time for the first of many college parties. But this one will look different because it is opening night. Girls getting ready, boys getting booze. Pressure to be perfect, after all it’s your first impression after a three-month period, you’re expected to glow up, right?! This looks like tan skin, short shorts, cropped top cutting off, beach body? Or khaki shorts paired with a preppy polo, keep it cool and casual. Now it’s game time, or should I say pre-game time. Flocking to dorm rooms to drink—tonight’s events include beer pong, flip cup or virtually any gamified drinking activity. This is fun, expect when you are crowded into a freshman dorm room with twenty people and get boxed out of games and conversations, there is nothing “fun” about it. You rally for the main event, the actually party. You head out with friends who are already drunk— listening for where the music blasts loudest. Your friend of a friend has a boyfriend in Sigma Chi so you head to that fraternity. You are looked up and down at the door (boobs, butt, and blonde all check the boxes) and begrudgingly get let into the shaking house of people. You take a lap: aggressive PDA, alcohol in excess, and drugs done desperately and openly. The room is flooded, but where do you fit? Where can you cut into a conversation? Where can you stand to slip into the crowd? You find a corner but that leads to being cornered, boys boxing you in. Coming onto you, no “yes” needed, consent never considered. You dodge the dick, and slide out of that situation. 3:39am. Time to go “home”, your quaint quarters for the next year. Boxes still stacked high on your bed. No cozy pajamas to throw on, they are packed away still, so alcohol stained shorts it is. The alarm is set, 7:23am because come 8am it is time for class, and it all begins.

Add/drop classes— scheduling screws you

You have it all figured out. Your schedule goes like this: 8am Accounting, 9am International Relations, 11am Calculus, 1pm Writing and Culture, and 3pm Theology. Sprinkled with office hours, meals, and meetings your day becomes filled to the brim with places to be and people to see. Monday looks a little different from Wednesday and from Tuesday to Friday. The week takes shape and patterns are put in place. The pattern is distrubed by the contents of each class that require monumental shifts in psych in the matter of 15-minute blocks. Then with each class comes a fresh syllabus full of anxe. A laundry list of books each costing $50+, or that the class does not fulfill your curriculums core requirements and therefore serves no purpose, or the asshole teacher who opens the class by saying, “I don’t give A’s”. Well, fuck. You evaluate your limited options. There is still the promise of add/drop week, so you swiftly navigate the online class selection, you shift around the time blocks in your schedule to make something work. A few clicks later you believe crisis is avoided, only to be met with waitlists, capped sections, and pre-requisite barriers. This means compromise, either you suck it up get a bad grade with the impossible teacher or take the pointless class. This is what paying 65k+ in student loans for education looks like.  

Now, I am not trying to be a “Debbie Downer”. This is what the magic-8 ball is sharing. Don’t worry, or should we say do worry, but read this to prepare for the school stresses ahead. Here are some ideas on how to proactively take college on.

  1. Decide your limits and stick to them: “Opening Night” can turn into a drunken deep end, that gives you an unsustainable start to school. Try to understand your “party propaganda” tolerance. Drinks display different on everyone so find out what this looks like for you before you are thrown into the thick of it.
  2. Don’t let an entourage ruffle your feathers, its wing woman time: Big groups of friends are unreliable. They will leave you out of dinners or forget you at a party. Finding yourself a wing man and/or woman is the ultimate power move because you know you always have someone in your corner. They are your library study bud or party & puke partner. Bottom line they got your back and you got theirs.
  3. Curiosities over Credits: Core credits can control your entire education. They are important, but don’t forget to build in classes you actually care about. Sustaining intellectual interest is key, especially when attendance is not always necessary. Take a class that will teach you something new, because YOCO (you only college once) and learning to play the guitar might not be offered again.

Consider some of these, by no means are they guaranteed stress free. But they might help fill your backpack with more than just pens and pencils, and relieve some emotional baggage. 

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