It has been seven years since I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts, but I found it an easy decision to return to study. I’ve been working in hospitality for the past decade while travelling. Without meaning to, I ended up with a career in an industry I had been using to get me through my first degree. Working in a stressful job, I was pushed to explore my options of exiting the hospitality industry. I’ve always been drawn to the thought of completing my masters. Upon the approval of my permanent residency, I applied to Griffith for the Master of Social Work program.
Although the decision to attend school was an easy one, the process of starting again has has been quite challenging. Since finishing my undergrad all those years ago, I have absolutely glorified the student experience. With the first trimester almost under my belt, I am reminded of the demanding realities of being a full-time student trying to balance school, life and self-care.
The juggle between work commitments, school deadlines, social commitments, relationships, family and drinking enough water is real. I found that finding time for reading course material was the easiest part, as I do enjoy reading. The hard part for me was writing a 2500 word academic paper after years out of school. I have been out of practice. I definitely underestimated how much time it would take me to get back into the swing of academic writing, re-learning how to reference and research. It really threw me for a loop.
Coming to the end of trimester, I have settled back into the rhythm of student life. Here is what I learned about getting back into the student grind:
- Preparation is key to surviving the pressures of balancing school deadlines and life. At the beginning of the course before it gets heavy, read the syllabus and get to know the major assignments. Begin to research early and work on it a little bit at a time. I can, more times than not, find some time every day instead of a big chunk of time in a panic (I’ve never been a crammer).
- Don’t neglect your friends and family. Balance is key to an enjoyable student experience.
- Self-care is so important. It is important to maintain the things that make you happy, exercise, relaxing, reading non-academic books, talking to your friends etc.
- Don’t compare yourself to other students. Your student journey is not going to be the same as another. We all have different financial situations, family obligations, geographic locations, skill sets, learning abilities and different lifestyles. When you start comparing, it inevitably leads you to feeling that you are behind as a student. My recommendation is to just do your best in any given moment.