A Senior’s Declassified (Literally) School Survival Guide

Written by Crystal Schupbach

We often know what we are supposed to be doing, but we fail to implement plans because we don’t have solid examples of where to start. As Hillsdale College students, we are used to packed schedules filled with study table requirements and more committee and club meetings than we can count. When this schedule is lost, many may find it hard to stay focused.

1. Be Mindful of the Clock (aka, Stick to a Normal Schedule)

Lately, the days feel like nights and the nights feel like days. I ate lunch at 3:30 pm last Tuesday and dinner at 9:45 p.m. If you blacked out the windows in my house, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell the time. In order to preserve a schedule conducive to learning, you should force yourself to have a stable bedtime and a rise time. I have learned this the hard way, quickly, because I’ve already slept through a Zoom class. I thought I’d be able to binge a Netflix show about Airbnbs (not worth it) late into the night. Now, I’ve decided that on “school nights,” I must go to bed at 11:30 p.m. and wake up at 8 a.m.

2. Don’t Ever Participate in Class Work from Your Bed (aka, Create a Specific School-Space)

If you work from your bed, you risk the chance of being too comfortable. Create a space for yourself that is neat and organized. This is hard but essential, especially since you don’t have your favorite spot in the library or your desk in your dorm room, or if you’re messy like me. Losing your specific habits or rituals for yourself at school is already a disadvantage to memory retention or focus—even if it’s simply all superstition, it probably provides you confidence. On campus, I always used a large whiteboard in the Psychology Suite before every single big exam. I’ve now attempted to replace this habit by setting up my desk in my house to be only for school purposes. It sounds crazy, but I’ve decided to only put school items on this desk. Challenge yourself to make your bed right when you wake up, and don’t mess it up until you have finished your day’s tasks.

3. Avoid Treating Your Diet Like It’s A Movie Night That Never Ends (aka, Eat Good Foods)

Lounging around the house in your pajamas all day makes it hard to not be tempted to eat like it. If you are back home living with your parents right now, offer to cook dinner. Experimenting in the kitchen is often therapeutic and one of my new favorite hobbies—although I am spending this time at my own house alone, so I don’t have much of a choice. There are many things you can control no matter what—like drinking plenty of water and being mindful of how often and when you choose to snack. Eating well gives you brain power and boosts your immunities.

4. Please Call Your Grandmother (aka, Use Technology to Stay Connected with Your Social Circle)

Social distancing can have negative impacts on your mental health. Even though we all know this is for the greater good (and is mandated by the law), it would be detrimental to not try to implement preventatives for declining mood. Luckily, you’ve probably already found many ways to stay connected via our phones with Facetime (or good old-fashioned Skype) to your friends. If you are searching for new ideas, try having a movie night via the Google Chrome browser extension called “Netflix Party.” This tool lets you share the screen with friends. For a remote game night, try “Drawful 2,” a game similar to Pictionary which you can play over Zoom. Through April 11, it’s free through this link. Or maybe try creating a nostalgic Spotify playlist for your friends—you can change the cover photo on the playlist to a picture of you and that friend. Now that you have so much free time, please don’t forget to call your grandmother.

5. Getting Fresh Air is Not Cancelled (aka, Go Outside and Exercise)

Take your dog for a walk, or take yourself for a walk. It really doesn’t matter. It’s still a weird limbo between winter and spring here in Hillsdale, Michigan, but trying to get a little Vitamin D still does wonders for your mood and health. It’s also good to escape the stagnant air of your home. Try going for a run, even if you aren’t a runner—everyone needs to start somewhere (and now’s the perfect time because, well, what else can you do?) In the age of Instagram, there are many at-home workouts which can even be done outside! Hillsdale senior Kamryn Matthew has channeled her knowledge of fitness and training into a fitness Instagram page @kammatthews_, where you can find some at-home exercises to stay active without the gym!

6. Try Going to Office Hours on Zoom

Don’t lose touch with your professors during this time. Many profs are still offering a set schedule for office hours, but if they aren’t, don’t hesitate to ask. We miss our professors, and I’m sure they miss us too.

Crystal Schupbach Crystal Schupbach, ’20, is a Michigan native studying psychology and journalism. A few of her favorite things include dogs, summertime concerts, and garage sales—in that order.

Published in April 2020