New year, New you: How to succeed in Spring 2022

Mallory Pace and Lauren Fox

As we kick out of bed and wake up into a new semester in a new year, it can be easy to get caught up in the same old routine. Wake up, log in to Zoom or go to class, eat something, go home, then contemplate doing your assignments. Being stuck in a repetitive cycle makes it hard to explore your creativity and thus can leave you feeling stuck or bored. While some classes remain entirely online, that doesn’t mean school has to be something you dread. Student Academic Success Services, or SASS, is a department at UNF that advises and helps struggling students, with a wide range of reasons. Whether it be specific courses, study skills, or struggling to find the right motivation, SASS is there to help you. 

Change your environment

Doing Zoom classes from bed, as comfortable as it sounds, is certainly not an efficient way to stay engaged in class. Research suggests doing work from bed not only causes posture problems but can decrease productivity. Your bed should only be used for one thing: sleeping. Being in a comfortable and safe space, like your own bed, will only make you more drowsy and tired because you are in the one place you sleep. So, for your next Zoom class, move to a different environment if you can, like the UNF Library, a quiet coffee shop, or just somewhere that will keep you awake and focused.  

Change the way you study

Assignments, discussions, and tests are conducted primarily online for many students, making it easy to lose focus. Paying attention and taking notes may seem mundane to some students, so find another way to study that works for you. If you are more of a visual learner, taking color-coded notes or creative PowerPoints can help you retain information. It might be beneficial to try different methods to see what sticks. It might all sound like a lot of extra work, but it’s just a way to study that beats sitting down and reading a textbook for hours —unless that works for you — then go ahead, just not in your bed.  

 A "Love You a Latte" sign sits on a sidewalk.
A “Love You a Latte” sign sits on a sidewalk. (Justin Nedrow)

SASS offers walk-ins and appointments for tutoring in specific courses and as well as academic coaching from successful students to teach more general skill sets that can apply to anyone. These kinds of skills include time management, study skills, note-taking strategies, public speaking, and more. Dylan Charles, the director of SASS, encourages struggling students to be open-minded.

“When you get a test back and the student next to you got a 95 and you got a 65, you can’t think ‘they’re smarter than me’; that’s not true. They just did something different than you, they took a different approach than you. Be adaptable, flexible, and try different things. You gotta figure out what works for you and there are people who will help you do that,” Charles said.

Change your attitude

Attending college is stressful and frustrating at times, but it’s also a great opportunity that not everyone has. Waking up in the morning with a dark cloud of assignments is hard to shake, but with the right attitude change, it doesn’t have to feel like a burden. Try retraining your brain by making yourself focus on three positive things you are grateful for each day. Even noticing minor things, like the lunch you had, something nice your friend said, or finally getting a good coffee from Dunkin. It can help you shift into a positive mindset that will emerge even when going through some of the boring parts of the day. Changing the way you think about school will help you change the way you approach classes and assignments, and thus do better in everything you have the opportunity to do.  

Charles suggests to students that may be experiencing a lack of motivation to try and find the cause of the feeling rather than treat the symptoms of it. 

“We can say ‘Oh make sure to make a to-do list!’ and that sort of stuff but when it comes down to it, if the student is having a mental health crisis, a to-do list doesn’t help with that at the end of the day. It might be a step in that journey to learn how and handle stressors, sure, but that’s not an overall solution,” Charles said. 

Stay Healthy

An essential part of being successful is taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Luckily, UNF students have many services at hand dedicated to their health. If you need help healing from a traumatic event or simply need someone to talk to, the Counseling Center in Building 2 is the place for you. Offering both individual and group counseling, licensed therapists are available upon appointment. The Counseling Center also offers creative ways to relieve stress with programs like art therapy. 

Stress relief and mental wellness can be bolstered by maintaining good physical health. Most students already know about the 27,000 square-foot Dottie Dorian Fitness Center, but with space accommodating over 260 exercise stations, getting started with a workout routine can be overwhelming. For those who want to work out but don’t know where to start, the Wellness Center offers an array of group fitness classes. Whether you want to relax with a yoga or meditation class, build your body with a “Buns and Guns” or “Ab Attack” class, or find an alternative workout such as Zumba, group fitness classes are a great way to get into a healthy habit. Registered dietitians are also available for free consultations through the Wellness Center. 

The silhouette of a bike sign. (Justin Nedrow)

Diet and exercise are great ways to stay physically healthy, but UNF’s Student Health Services (SHS) offers free doctor consultations to students when those routines are not enough. SHS also offers bloodwork, STD testing, physical exams, gynecological exams, and X-rays for an additional fee. Taking advantage of all the free and cheap services available is an excellent way for students to stay healthy (and save money!). With the fresh new year ahead, there’s never been a more perfect time to take charge of your health and your success.

Finally, to any students who are struggling in school, Charles offers some advice.

“Students need to sometimes take a step back and figure themselves out a little bit. I think students sometimes get demotivated in courses where they think, why does this matter… but you just gotta find the reason in it and find something you can use this class for to better yourself,” Charles said.

Going into a new year is the most inviting place to create and welcome change. If you feel like you may be struggling in school, a new semester is a perfect time to try new things to help change that. Just remember to stay focused, grateful, and most importantly, be easy on yourself. It hasn’t been an easy year for anyone, so give yourself some credit for all you’ve accomplished and all that you will. 


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