Lean on friends for transition back to school

For most students, the end of the summer and the start of the school year come with a heavy supply of mixed feelings.

On one hand, you’re probably sad to be leaving behind the relative freedom and low stress of vacation—not to mention the warm weather. However, you’re also likely excited to reunite with school friends, take some intriguing new classes, and dive back into extracurriculars that keep you the best kind of busy.

While there are pros and cons to the back-to-school shift, every student deserves to return to Carnegie Mellon life with minimal melancholy and maximum enthusiasm. There are several things you should keep in mind to ease the transition.

First, friends are your most valuable resource. During the summer, at-home friendships tend to have a more relaxed tone, since no one has deadlines hanging over their heads and you can concentrate on catching up and having fun. Now, you and all of your college friends are in the same, more stressful boat; sadly, you can no longer stay up all night just chilling without academic consequence.

Instead of mourning that fact, reshape the dynamics of your friendships around it to make school both easier and more enjoyable. Studying and working with your friends, or even in the same room as them, is usually a good way to encourage productivity. Share with them what’s exciting you about your classes in order to amp up your own excitement. Coax out the inner intellectual you’ve likely spent a few months neglecting by bouncing new ideas off of them. When you’re all helping each other adjust to an academic mindset at the offset, you can avoid the trap of starting out with the bare minimum and getting bogged down by responsibilities later.

That said, also spare some time for living a little. Even though fun and relaxation won’t reach peak summer levels, don’t go cold turkey on everything good in life either. You would be doing yourself a major disservice not to leave some wiggle room in your schedule for improvisation, especially during the early adjustment weeks of the semester. Spontaneous activities can include everything from 10-minute study snack breaks, to Friday movie nights with the floormates, to embarking on a grand Pittsburgh adventure.

In your late teens and early twenties, your potential has never been greater. Why not make good on some of that potential? Cultivate new experiences, collect some stories, and remember that “student” doesn’t have to be the end-all, be-all of your identity.

At the same time, remind yourself why you are a Carnegie Mellon student. It’s more likely than not because you have a passion for your academic field or fields. It’s easy to moan about the stresses of student life, especially when you’ve just had a long respite from them. But there’s also something incredibly joyful about being in an environment filled with smart, dedicated, passionate people on the hunt for discovery. Each and every one of you is lucky to be here. Internalizing that is the best way to hit the ground running this new semester.