1. Time management – After working full-time for two years, it was definitely an adjustment coming back to school and no longer having my evenings and weekends free. It seems like common sense but it cannot be stressed enough: time management. Take advantage of those awkward 1-or 2-hour breaks between classes to knock out a quick assignment or reading, and make sure to schedule in time for longer assignments that may require a little more time. For those of you who get REAL positions at the CDC, take advantage of the first month of the fall semester before you start working and get ahead on your assignments—you’ll thank yourself later. The adjustment period is harder for some than others, so remember to give yourself a break and don’t forget:
2. Invest in a planner – and use it! It gives you a visual representation of your week and writing things down can be a great way to hold yourself accountable. I also use mine as an ongoing to-do list – no task is too small to write down!
3. Know when to say no – there are so many opportunities in and outside Rollins and it can be easy to over-commit yourself. Choose the classes and organizations you’re most passionate about or think will be the most valuable, and give yourself a little time to adjust before signing up for more.
4. Be mindful of your budget – your income is most likely not the same as it was before coming back to school, so be careful not to spend like you have a full-time salary. This can be tough at first, but things like meal-prepping, making coffee at home, and keeping a spreadsheet or using an app to keep track of your expenses can really make a difference!
5. Self-care! Be sure to make time for some self-care, no matter what that means to you. For me, things like going on a run, doing a quick meditation/breathing exercise, and checking out a new coffee shop really help me reset and refocus. I also try to do at least one fun, non-school related activity each weekend.
6. Having previous experience is valuable and you should leverage it – while Rollins is full of opportunities for students with limited public health or work experience, having previous experience is great when applying for REAL and non-REAL positions, so don’t be afraid to talk about it! Even if your experiences aren’t directly related to the position you’re applying for, try to identify transferable skills that relate to the position you’re applying for. If you’re not sure what those skills are or you need help tailoring your resume or prepping for an interview, make an appointment with the Office of Career Development–they’re there to help! https://www.sph.emory.edu/careers/index.html
7. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone if you’re struggling – whether it’s a classmate, family member, friend, your ADAP, or CAPS, there are resources out there for you! You don’t need to do this alone. http://counseling.emory.edu/
8. Find your people – Whether or not you took time off or are coming straight from undergrad, more likely than not there are others feeling the same way as you!
9. Be patient with yourself – going back to school is an adjustment and the first few months may (or may not) be a struggle. Give yourself time to adjust, and remember, you’re here for a reason!