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Back to School: 4 Tips for Thinking Like a Student Again

Back to School: 4 Tips for Thinking Like a Student Again  During the summer it’s natural to slip out of study mode — and into fun, sun and relaxation.

So the start of another school year can feel sobering (at best).

But there are ways you can ease into the fall semester, without much stress. Below, Julie Hanks, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and author of the blog “Private Practice Toolbox” on Psych Central, shared her tips for shifting to student mode.

1. Start reading regularly. “Get back into the habit of reading for longer stretches of time and reflecting on what you’ve read,” Hanks said. Try to read material that’s somehow related to your studies, such as textbooks or journal articles.

2. Gather everything you’ll need. Figure out the tools you’ll need this semester to succeed, Hanks said. It might be anything from a laptop to certain books to notebooks to a backpack. “Externally preparing for the shift into ‘student mode’ can help you get back into feeling like a student.”

3. Create a comprehensive schedule. Carve out chunks of time for homework and studying, in addition to social events and other commitments, she said.

4. Get involved in extracurriculars. What school activities or clubs would you like to join this year? Consider what’s available in your area of study, Hanks said. “Volunteer, visit the campus, and envision yourself as a successful and engaged student.”


Hanks isn’t just sharing her advice. She’s also taking it. She’s heading back to school this month to pursue her doctorate. These are a few of the ways she’s preparing for her program. Maybe they’ll inspire you, as well.

  • She purchased her school’s sweatshirt. Hanks is attending the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) to receive a PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy. It’s an online program. So the sweatshirt is a tangible symbol of her student status.
  • She adjusted her commitments. As she said, “I have shifted my priorities and commitments to allow for time to devote to my studies. I’m seeing fewer clients. I’ve blocked out chunks of time from work and family responsibilities so I can study.”
  • She’s staying involved. According to Hanks, “I visit the website often to look at my schedule, check student email, get updates from professors so I can continue to prepare. In fact, I just checked before writing this and one of my professors sent the list of three textbooks that I will now go online and order.”


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Back to School: 4 Tips for Thinking Like a Student Again

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., is an Associate Editor at Psych Central. She also explores self-image issues on her own blog Weightless and creativity on her blog Make a Mess: Everyday Creativity.

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2012). Back to School: 4 Tips for Thinking Like a Student Again. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 12, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Aug 2012
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Aug 2012
Published on All rights reserved.