Senior Year: Challenges and Lessons Learned

6 May

Every year is a learning experience, every moment even, and my senior year has been no different. The biggest challenge I’ve faced this year is learning to self-regulate and manage my time on a tight schedule. I took on two jobs this year, and also completed my honors thesis, which involves two independent study classes supervised by an advisor.

Charlie Brown screaming "augh" with baseball mit

Since I believe in paying it foward, these are some tips that have kept me sane and on target over the past four years. I hope they work for you too!

Time Management:

  1. Respect your schedule: Set one and stick to it. If you are busy at a certain time, don’t double-book yourself. If you have ten minutes to get to class, don’t try to get coffee. If you said you’d be at work, be at work. This will keep you from losing valuable time intended for study, sleep, or eating because of disorganization.
  1. Sleep for at least 7 hours (or more): I shoot for going to be at least eight hours before I need to get up. I do this every night. Sleeping protects your immune system and allows you to concentrate for longer periods.

Boo, little girl from "Monsters Inc." movie, falling asleep

  1. Set aside time with friends or loved ones: We aren’t machines. The most rewarding part of being alive is often the time we spend with people. Don’t cut that out of your life because you are a student. “Student” is just one of your many identities. Respect and set aside for everything. I promise, it will fit in your schedule!

Blanche, Sophia, and Dorothy, from "The Golden Girls" laughing

  1. Don’t take on too much: I decided not to participate in a club because I took on two jobs. Even with this adjustment, I didn’t have time to apply for any master’s programs, which I intended to do going into senior year. I have a job lined up after graduation, so things have worked out, but at winter break I was feeling a little insecure about my decision not to apply for graduate programs.

Motivation and Self-Regulation

Love interest from Disney's "Mulan" in the middle of his motivational song - "Let's get down to business"

  1. Study Your Passion: I was able to motivate myself to work on my honors thesis even though I didn’t have a regular class time or weekly assignments because I really enjoyed working on it. I wrote and revised several short stories. This is what I love to do and hope to do forever. Working with a professor on the project was my best experience to date at the U of A.
  2. Take Breaks: Again, we’re not machines. If I’m not feeling motivated to read for a class, I’ll promise myself that after an hour of reading I will watch one episode of The Golden Girls (which is on every week night). If an hour is too much, start with ten minutes. Promise yourself you’ll work for ten minutes. Either you’ll get ten minutes of work done, then take a break, or you might find that once you get started you’ll be able to work for a half an hour or even an hour.

Those are my best tips as a senior! However, the most important thing I’ve learned during my time here at the University of Arizona is that, whether it’s during college or in that murky place called the real world which I suspect we are already a part of, the best part of life is the people we share it with. My final golden nugget of wisdom is to cherish the friends and loved ones you find here at the U of A, and let them know you appreciate them.

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