Back to School (Sanity) Savings

I love the start to a new school year: fresh faces, imminent adventures, a new t-shirt from the book store. AND making new To Do Calendars, buying new used books, warming up my mechanical pencil and resurrecting Hallway Friendships*.

A crackling, dancing, high voltage, live wire has nothing on my excitement for a new school year. In addition to my research, teaching assistantship, academic coaching, and studying, this semester I get to help develop two classes, which if successful, will get added to the department’s curriculum as options for an undergraduate minor in petroleum systems.

With so many opportunities and adventures to be had, what are the end members needed to keep an infinitely excited student sane? These are hard fought lessons my friends.

First, that saying yes to one thing means no to something else. I do not have an addictive personality, but I do have an excessive personality. My advisor at MT Tech mentioned off handedly that, “you know if Scyller’s doing something, she’s over-doing it.” Point taken.

Second, and this was a hard one for me, there is a difference between a productive student and an effective student. This year I finally sat down with myself and asked the hard question: what is it you are here to do?

The recommendations below are made with hindsight in mind:

  1. Joining Student Organizations At one point I belonged to five separate student organizations and held officer positions in two. Too much. Certainly, I recommend joining the clubs that are of interest. I also include a professional society student chapter as these introduce students to professionals in their fields, career opportunities and scholarships.
  2. Course (Over)Load Part of my heavy credit load as a post-bacc stemmed from my trying to get through general courses so I could get into the graduate program. I maxed out my semester course load and predictably my grades were harder to maintain. I still tend towards a heavy course load because I enjoy learning, but the trade off will always be with grades.
  3. Full-Time-Part-Time Work School is expensive and there is no shortage of need for cash. Work enough to cover the bills and that’s it. Get through your program and get on to making real money.
  4. Socializing (All Hours) You have three options, pick two:
    1. well rested,
    2. top marks,
    3. a rocking social life.

Going forward yes, but looking back over this list, I would not do my academic history any differently. If we aren’t throwing open the flood gates once in a while and letting ‘er rip, what fun is it?

*A quick note on hallway friendships. Hallway friends are those whom you recognize and could not address by name should your life depend on it. Their importance comes in during the cold, dark winter months when you arrive on campus in the dark, leave in the dark, have no natural light in your office and you begin to wonder if you are still a part of the material world or if perhaps your experiment caused you to vaporize and leave this familiar plane of existence. If said Hallway Friend still nods in your direction when they pass you, life persists in spite of the fact that yours is ebbing away. 

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