Experts Share Back-to-School Advice
Check Out These Tips on How to Get the Most Out of This School Year
Aug. 18, 2011
Combat the first-time college blues
Dr. James Cannici
The first few weeks away from home can be tough for new college students, but experts at UT Dallas say there are ways to alleviate homesickness and enjoy life on campus.
“We encourage students to take some simple steps to bridge life away from home,” says Dr. Jim Cannici, a psychologist with the Student Counseling Center. “They should learn their way around campus and get to know their roommates. The people they live with are going through similar experiences and can be a good support network.”
Cannici says he and his team also suggest getting involved on campus.
“It’s a great way to make new friends and feel more connected,” he says. “It’s only natural that there will be times when students miss family and friends at home, but students should find a balance between social and academic activities.”
Finally, if students start to feel overwhelmed, Cannici suggests they seek professional help through counseling services provided on campus or elsewhere.
Go green and save money on back-to-school supplies
Students and parents on the hunt for school supplies might consider less-expensive, greener alternatives this year. Thea Junt, UT Dallas sustainability manager, offers tips for going green when going back to school.
- Scope out school supplies you already have. Round up notebooks, pens, markers, paper and other things you might need during the year. Reusing what you have is the greenest and least-expensive approach.
- Make one stop for most of your supplies rather than driving around to different stores. You’ll minimize vehicle emissions and save money on gas.
- Look for electronics carrying the Energy Star rating. These items use as little as half of the electricity that other models use.
- Take your lunch in a reusable lunch container. Use reusable dishes instead of single-serve, disposable packaged products. Vending machines mean more packaging and more waste – not to mention more money out of your pocket.
And finally, recycle at school too. Paper, plastic and aluminum recycling are available almost everywhere; if they aren’t, ask administrators to provide additional recycling services. Students generate around 240 pounds of school waste each year, most of it recyclable.
Memory expert offers tip for retaining information
Dr. Michael Rugg
Research has shown that an effective way to learn is to try to retrieve from memory the information you have just reviewed, rather than simply reviewing it over and over. To remember what you’ve read, for example, quiz yourself along the way, says Dr. Michael Rugg, a memory expert and co-director of the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity.
He suggests that after reading a chapter you put your book down and try to remember as much of it as you can, or write down the main points that you remember. Then go back and check to see if you are correct. Actively trying to remember information helps reinforce a memory.
This memory-boosting technique is likely to help older adults and students alike. “The principles of memory do not change as we get older,” says Rugg, Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, “even though there are features of memory processing that become less efficient over time.”
Start healthy living habits and avoid college weight gain
Easy access to food and changes in lifestyles for first-time college students can lead to unwanted weight gain. The so-called “freshman 15” – named for the 15 pounds young students may gain during their first year in college – can be avoided.
Amanda Smith, assistant director of student wellness at UT Dallas, says that with a little planning, staying fit is easier than students think.
“Without Mom or Dad there to provide balanced meals, it’s tempting to go for pizza, sweets and other fast foods,” Smith says. “We advise students to stay healthy by making smart food choices.”
Thinking about what you eat and when you eat are keys to success, she says. She also recommends starting an exercise routine, joining an intramural sports team or working out at the school activity center.
“Drink lots of water throughout the day, and try to keep healthy snacks around,” Smith adds. “Finding a workout buddy is also great motivation for staying in shape.”
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