Black Girl’s Back to School Guide: 6 Fly Ways to Survive Your Semester
Navigating college can be frightening, intimidating, and challenging. These tips will help you to remain fly and fierce while remaining successful and working towards your goals. If things get tough, remind yourself why you’re in school in the first place and keep pushing fly girl! You can do it!
1. Financial Peace
If you’re fortunate enough to write a check and pay for your tuition, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re like me and had to take out loans, it’s important that you understand what you’re getting into. Before taking out student loans be sure you understand the cost of tuition and related expenses; this includes interest! Then determine what loans you are eligible for and which ones will be best for you. There are two different types of government sponsored loans in undergrad--subsidized and unsubsidized--the government pays the interest on subsidized loans while the student is in school or while the loan is being deferred, meaning the time you have to make payments has been postponed. On the other hand, interest accrues on unsubsidized loans as soon as it is taken out. So if you have the choice, choose subsidized loans!
When taking out loans, you’re likely to receive a refund which means money in your pocket-- kinda. This happens when you’re loaned more money than you need for the semester. The money that you receive in a refund is still a part of the loan you took out and therefore needs to be paid back. If you aren’t going to use that money to pay towards the interest of your loans, budget your money for the semester. This means refraining from the mall and other tempting desires. Make sure that before you begin buying frivolous things that all of your bills are paid; that includes any credit cards that you might have. The worst thing you want to do is ruin your credit before you even have the chance to build it. And lastly…SAVINGS! All good things must come to an end, college included, and once you graduate you will begin to enter the world of adulting and that includes paying first month’s rent for your new place and buying furniture for the first time. Don’t let the cost of living on your own for the first time catch you off guard! Even if you decide to move back home, having some money set aside for any unexpected bills your parents may gift you with, will be handy. Begin saving for your first day in the real world. I promise, you’ll thank yourself for it.
“The best financial decisions for you or your family may not be most popular. Make the right decisions anyway.” -The Finance Bar
An affirmation to help you through: “I am aligned with the energy of wealth and abundance.”
2. How to Pick a Major
A lot of incoming freshman come in as undecided for their major, and that is completely okay. Don’t force yourself to pick a major and regret that decision down the road; it’s a costly and timely mistake. Ask yourself a series of questions- “What am I good at?” “What am I passionate about?” “What am I interested in?” “What are my favorite or least favorite subjects?”. Asking yourself these questions will help guide you towards your career. As you begin answering these questions, go deeper by exploring those options. Are you interested in computers? Try taking some computer classes. Do you hate science? In these cases, you should stay away from careers that are centered around that topic. Are you passionate about history? Do you find yourself engaging in conversations with others and going online to research the war of 1812? What you are interested in, I promise there is a career for you in it. Your freshman and sophomore years at universities are often used to take general education classes and allows you to explore a spectrum of courses. These courses should be able to help you narrow your decision regarding a major. Take your time deciding your major, going to school is a significant investment and you want to make sure you get what you need.
“Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion, and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them.” -Ruben Chavez
An affirmation to help you through: “I am excited that every action I take moves me toward my perfect career.”
3. Create a Schedule that Works for You
It is good to know yourself and plan accordingly when creating your class schedule. Consider whether or not you are a morning person, will you be able to wake up at six or seven in the morning to get ready and be on time to your 8AM class? If that isn't you, then try to schedule your classes in the afternoon or evening. If you so happen to get stuck with early morning classes, this is where establishing some discipline will be to your benefit. Set alarms to ensure that you wake up with enough time to prepare for class. If you are one of the talented few who can sleep through alarms no matter how many you set or how obnoxious they might be, ask your roommate to wake you up or a neighbor in your residence hall. Once you find what works for you, stick to it. We are creatures of habit therefore, building healthy habits and establishing a weekly routine will help you to be ready and prepared for class week to week.
“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
An affirmation to help you through: “ I am a product of my decisions.”
4. Time Management
Setting intentions, creating to-do lists, and prioritizing assignments has saved me from constant procrastination. The first week of school, you will often see offices like student activities or career services handing out planners, be sure to grab yourself a planner. You will receive several syllabuses the first week of school that will outline when all assignments are due and exams will be held. A planner will come in handy because you can write down assignment due dates and exams ahead of time; doing so will help you study and plan in advance. Set reminders in your phone, purchase a large calendar, and create as many sticky notes as you need to ensure that you are on top of everything. Falling behind is not fun and can be very stressful, the key to a healthy lifestyle is to manage your stress levels. By prioritizing your assignments, exams, and all other responsibilities you will be able to keep your stress levels low. Managing all of your responsibilities in college can be very demanding and overwhelming at times however, if you find ways to properly manage your time you will be less likely become overwhelmed.
Time Management Tips:
- Complete most important tasks first
- Learn to say “no”
- Sleep at least 6-7 hours a night
- Devote your entire focus to the task at hand
- Get an early start
- Be conscientious of TV/Internet/Gaming time
- Decide a time limit in which to complete tasks
- Utilize weekends
- Create organizing systems
- Commit to your plans
An affirmation to help you through: “I manage my time efficiently and effectively.”
Tools/Resources: Productivity Hacks
5. Make Time for Self-Love
Stress is REAL! Especially around exam time, don’t overwhelm yourself. This is where time management skills kick in and your need to prioritize your assignments becomes priority. Try creating a “to do” list or utilize the planner you should already have- this will help you view your week on paper and manage time for assignments around your classes and meetings. Having a clear mind instead of trying to remember things seems minor but can have a major impact. Put aside some time for self-love during the week. Try one of the fitness classes offered on campus, listen to a podcast, or binge watch a network series- whatever you do, make sure you’re setting aside some time to just debrief and relax from the stress of school. Being well physically, mentally, and spiritually will affect the work you put out.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
An affirmation to help you through: “I re-set, re-adjust, re-start, and re-focus as many times as I need to.”
6. Relationships 101
College is where you make lifelong friends with your roommates, classmates, or even someone in the same organization as you. Other friends will last a semester, and some will simply make it through your college career. Don’t get caught up on trying to force relationships that were only meant for a season. Those relationships will be tested by multiple circumstances, but take time to evaluate those who are adding to your life and those that are taking away from your life.
Now, romantic relationships--where do I start. Trying to maintain a romantic relationship in certainly challenging but it can be done- sometimes, slim chance though. Haha. In college there are a lot of opportunities to become distracted while in a romantic relationship. Don’t lose sight of yourself while in a relationship and don’t be pressured to make a temporary situation become permanent. If you do happen to find the love of your life, make sure to create a balance between love and scholarship.
“Your relationship with yourself determines the quality of the relationships you can create with others.” -Deepak Chopra
An affirmation to help you through: “I am worthy of loving, caring, healthy relationships.”
In addition to these six amazing steps, remember to enjoy the process. These tips will help you through not only your semesters in college, but also in life. So, perfect them now and carry them with you while alway growing .