Five Tips to Survive Your 8 a.m.

Written by Emily Marsh

I had resolved to never take an 8 a.m. class. Ironically, I had to add an 8 a.m. class for an intended minor this semester. I love the class, but not the fact that it starts twenty minutes after the sun rises in Michigan winter. Mornings in college are a battle between you, time, and falling back into unconsciousness. In the last few weeks, I’ve learned some tricks to making it through your 8 a.m. classes.

Caffeine, Your Key to Success: The most critical part of waking up, for me, is getting caffeine into my bloodstream as soon as possible. If you have a coffee maker at school, I highly recommend setting it up close to your bed and filling it the night before. As soon as my alarm goes off, before I even open my eyes, I roll over and press the button to start brewing coffee. It’s also a great incentive to get out of bed.

The Preparation: The morning is a race to get myself ready, get my things together for the day, and get out the door with enough time to walk to class. To maximize the time I can sleep in the mornings, I pack my backpack and fill my water bottle the night before. If you take a long time to plan your outfit for the day, that could also be good to do the night before. I imagine this would be a good habit regardless of when your first class starts, but I find it especially helpful on early mornings.

The Overlooked Details of Lighting: It is unlikely that your roommate will have an 8 a.m. class the same days you do. This presents a problem for getting ready. At Hillsdale, from October to March, the sun won’t be up when you’ll have to start getting ready. But your roommate shouldn’t lose sleep just because you have to! To avoid getting dressed in the dark, I recommend stringing up Christmas lights on your side of the room or over your closet or bringing a desk light to school. The softer light won’t wake up your roommate, but you won’t come out of your room with mismatched socks.

Once You’re Awake, You Have to Stay Awake: So you’ve made it to class, on time, and with matching socks. The last challenge is staying awake. My 8 a.m. American Heritage class is fascinating, but there are still some days that the early morning starts to get to me. This is where the travel mug comes in! A travel mug of coffee or tea for the caffeine addict is a life-saver. And if you haven’t yet developed a caffeine addiction, water and a snack are underrated strategies to help stay awake, too.

Personalize It: If you find yourself taking an 8 a.m. this semester, try to be proactive about setting yourself up to succeed in class. The most important way to survive your 8 a.m. classes is to figure out what strategies work for you. Experiment with different habits to prepare for class, choose the most effective ones, and do them every day. Putting in the effort for these classes goes a long way. The professors will appreciate it, and you’ll thank yourself later when you crush the final exam.

Emily Marsh, ’23, studies Economics and Mathematics. She is a self-diagnosed coffee addict and she loves the water, meeting new people, and writing (on the good days). Her favorite part of being on campus is people watching when she’s supposed to be doing homework.

Published in April 2020