Going Back to School Can Be Hard—Here’s How to Make it Through Your First Few Classes

If you’ve been out of school for a while, going back can be exciting—but it can also be challenging and intimidating. You’ll likely be stretched as you start flexing those academic muscles, creating new routines, and making space in your life for your studies. For this reason, many students feel the first few classes can be especially hard. If you start to feel this way, know you’re not in it alone! It’s normal, and at Bethel University, we’ve seen it enough to be able to offer a few tips.

Be Open.

Be open to asking for help and communicating honestly with your professors and advisors. It can be difficult enough learning to balance school with real life, and not asking for help when you need it can make it even harder. At Bethel, our professors are always open to questions and want to help you succeed. They may also direct you to the Academic Resource Center (ARC). The ARC pairs students with math/statistic or writing specialists so that they can succeed in their classes.

Take One Day at A Time.

Even if you have been out of school for a while, you know how intimidating the syllabus can be. With every assignment, test, and quiz listed, it can sometimes be too much to process. Be sure to take one day and one assignment at a time. Focus on the main and important material and find a pace that works for you. Remember to reach out to your professors when material gets tough.

Practice Good Self-Care.

Taking care of yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally is key to finding success in your classes. Just like the oxygen mask presentation on an airplane, taking care of yourself first will allow you to take care of others and your course work.

There are a variety of resources and activities to consider as you start the journey.

  • Move! Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a run, or see if your school’s fitness center offers workout classes. Working out releases endorphins that can regulate your mood and your mental performance level. Moving is good for your brain and your body, and there are so many ways to do it!
  • Make time for special people in your life, whether it be friends, family, or colleagues. Starting a new season can be difficult, so finding space to rest and reflect with those who can give you the energy you need.
  • Sometimes the beginning of school can bring new challenges. See if your school offers counseling services or consider looking for local counseling clinics so you can be equipped with the resources to overcome and learn from the challenges.

Find Your Groove.

There are all sorts of ways, places, and people to study with. From coffee shops to libraries, each person needs a different environment to study in. If you like the off campus feel, create a study group and meet at your favorite coffee shop each week. Or find a quiet spot in a local library and hunker down.

There are so many ways to study too. Listen to audio books, use notecards, take practice quizzes on Quizlet, or teach someone else what you are studying. As the year starts, find your study groove and what works best for you.

At Bethel University, we understand that starting classes again can be an intimidating thing. But we hope to encourage and support you as you take important steps in your journey!

Britt Olson and Bethel’s Student Success team contributed to this blog post. The Student Success team creates and tailors advising and support needs to each student as they continue along their education pathways.