We hate to break it to you while you’re thinking about beaches and barbecues in the middle of summer—but the start of the fall semester is right around the corner! We’re positive that you’re excited to get back to homework, late nights, early mornings, and a great deal of studying—or at the very least, we hope you’re prepared for what the semester has in store.
In this blog series, the CLEP study guide experts at SpeedyPrep will give you a few tips for starting off the semester strong, and paving the way for success all the way through finals week. In part 1 of this series, we’ll cover some lifestyle hacks that will help you feel great and perform at your best all semester long. In part 2, we’ll discuss making good decisions in the academic environment that will help you learn more efficiently and stay on top of your school work. Enjoy the rest of your summer, but keep these tips in mind for when school is back in session.
Create a healthy morning routine.
If you’re going to start the semester off right, you’ll need to start each and every day off right as well. Your morning sets the tone for your entire day—so if you’re the kind of person who likes to roll out of bed ten minutes before class and throw on your pajamas, you might want to consider making some tweaks to your morning ritual to aid in your academic and personal success.
This might sound like heresy to the religious late sleepers of the bunch, but try this: wake up an hour earlier than you normally do, drink a large glass of water, do a few jumping jacks or pushups, and take a shower (we repeat: take a shower). Finally, take five or 10 minutes to skim over your course material for the day. No need to take notes or do any intense studying—just take quick look over materials to refresh your brain for the day ahead.
By the time you make it to class, you’ll be fully awake and energized, and your brain will be ready to learn—and that energy will carry you throughout out your entire day of classes (maybe with the help of a cup of coffee).
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Work on the early to rise part, and you’re well on your way to improved academic performance.
No, coffee is not breakfast. No, neither are Pop Tarts. If you’re going to start your semester off right, you need to fuel your performance by partaking in the most important meal of the day. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time thinking about lunch and less time thinking about your school work.
When you wake up in the morning, your energy stores are depleted by as much as 80 percent. Replenish your energy and jumpstart your day with some solid protein, healthy fats, and fruit to give your body (and brain) the nourishment it needs to learn at its best. Breakfast burritos, anyone?
Take it easy on the caffeine.
We’ve all heard the sad stories of caffeine-induced rage, panic, sorrow, and paranoia in the college world, usually kickstarted by a six-pack of Red Bull and a few things off the McDonald’s dollar menu. Easy there, tiger! All that caffeine and sugar might help you plow through a rough draft of a research paper, but it’s not going to help you learn more efficiently or achieve learning permanence.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—caffeine intake falls under the law of diminishing returns. A cup of coffee can increase your energy and focus, helping you absorb and retain information more effectively. But when that cup of coffee turns into five cups of coffee, that focused energy becomes more of a frantic energy, overloading your brain and body with stimulants and making it hard to focus on the task at hand—and when that caffeine wears off, you’ll have a headache, a stomach ache, and a condition we like to call “mushy brain.” If you haven’t already guessed, a mushy brain doesn’t help you learn or get work done.
Go to sleep.
Seriously. Remember what our friend Ben Franklin said earlier? Going to bed at a reasonable hour is crucial to your overall health and success—your healthy morning routine means next to nothing if you don’t get a good night of sleep beforehand.
There’s no magic number when it comes how many hours of sleep you need. Some people need six or seven to feel refreshed, while others are more comfortable in the eight to nine range—but the National Sleep Foundation (which is very real thing) recommends that adults aged 18-25 get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much sleep you need on any given night. Find that magic sleep number and stick to it.
That’s it for part 1 of our series for getting a hot start when school is in session. Stay tuned for part 2 of the series, and check out our other blogs in the meantime!