First, I’m still figuring it out. My advice doesn’t come from a place of expertise, but rather from a place of experience. There are three things that I learned late in my academic career, but have proven to be beneficial even outside of school.
1. Time management and getting things done ahead of time
The stress and anxiety we feel from a large workload can often be preventative. Leaving things to the last minute is a sure way to make yourself feel overwhelmed. The best way to get things done ahead of time is to work gradually. Working 15 minutes a day for 5 days is less stressful than 3 hours the night before an assignment is due.
2. Learn to shift perspectives
It’s inevitable in academics. Everything we learn in school is not going to interest us. During my undergrad, I preferred to read and study Diasporic Literature over Middle English literature. Still, it was required. What made it easier for me, was when I learned to shift perspectives, and find value in what I was forced to read and study. This is important because the ability to shift your perspective transcends academics. Being able to shift perspectives allows you to understand people better and it allows you to find and leverage the silver lining in undesirable circumstances. A quote to sum this up:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
3. Embrace your process
Academics takes determination and the rewards are not always tangible. My biggest lessons came outside of the classroom, but by learning to refine my thought processes and perspectives in the classroom, I was able to apply those lessons. Understand that life is never linear. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s times where you spin in circles and go nowhere… but it’s all a part of the process. Sometimes we may not know why until later. Sometimes it takes a retrospective lens to understand. That said, consistently reminding yourself that you are in a process allows you to understand why when later comes. Don’t let your academic career be a blur. Embrace it. Your academic career isn’t solely computers, books, and homework. You meet classmates who become lifelong friends along the way. You meet teachers and professors who become mentors. You attend events such as dances, sporting events, parties, and graduation! And most importantly, you learn and find yourself. Slow down. Embrace it. Because it’s all a part of your process.