Finding a Routine in College
There’s a lot that goes through my mind at the beginning of a new school year: what I need to bring with me, who I’ll spend time with, what my classes will be like, how I’ll spend my time, etc. The first couple of weeks feel a bit messy, while I’m learning what my day-to-day schedule looks like. I slowly figure out when to eat my meals, when to do my homework, and when I can hang out with friends. Now that I’ve started my third year here at Houghton College, I’ve felt more at ease about knowing who I’ll see and what my routine will look like. I know that I’ll have different opportunities to worship and grow in my faith at a Christian college. My schedule, however, is pretty different from previous years.
The typical Houghton College schedule follows a pattern: some classes meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while the other classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday. As an education major in the third year of the program, I get to spend time in a classroom twice a week, working with grade-school students and partnering with a teacher. This is a really fun opportunity—but it causes my classes to meet on days that don’t follow the typical pattern. (For example, one class meets on Monday and Wednesday, while another class only meets on Monday, and my third class only meets on Wednesday.) This caused me to try and find consistency in other aspects of my routine, as my class schedule looked a little different than usual.
I think finding a routine at the beginning of the year looks different for everyone, but there are a few things that help me become settled more quickly:
Setting up my room!
I typically feel more settled if my room is organized and neat. Since my dorm room is going to be my home for the majority of the year, I put up pictures of people I love and make sure to designate a place for my snacks (a crucial aspect).
Building a routine for meals!
Even with snacks in my room, I need a few meals to get through the day, and it’s also a fun social time. Since Houghton is a Christian college, we get to worship and hear a message three times a week at chapel. This gives some routine to my schedule as well, and I usually eat lunch right afterwards.
Finding places to get my work done!
There are quite a few places on campus that I go to when I need to get things done. If the weather’s still nice, there are a few picnic tables scattered around campus, and it’s lovely to sit outside and do homework in the sunshine. If I’m not as worried about being productive, it’s fun to sit in the Campus Center lobby and do homework, talking with friends and doing some people-watching!
Things to Remember About Your College Transition
Transitioning to a new setting and rhythm of life usually takes a little bit of time, whether it’s a few days or a few weeks. Here are some important things to remember, to help the process go more smoothly:
It’s okay if it takes time to build a routine!
When you move to a new place and surround yourself with new people, things will look different. As the homework load increases, you have to find what works for your schedule.
Decide what you value most, and prioritize those things!
One of the things I struggled with when first going to college was deciding what to focus on. I enjoy being involved in things, and then I want to give 100% to everything I do—I quickly realized that this isn’t possible. Think about what gives you life, what brings you joy. What are you passionate about? (And no, you might not be passionate about homework, but you’re here for a reason. What do you need to focus on to be successful?)
It might look different than what you expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad!
I made a mistake when I came back for my second year of school. While I may not have been wrong in thinking that I was more prepared my second time around, I was wrong when I thought I knew everything to expect. Things around you will change, even if you try to control things, and this can be overwhelming. But change will often bring about new, good experiences. When things are different than you expected, look for the good.
Try new things!
Seriously—this is one of those things that someone will tell you before college, and you probably nod your head and then tuck it away in the part of your brain you won’t visit again. If you try something new, you might like it, you might not! If you like it, you’ve found something else that brings you joy, and you might’ve met new people in the process. And if you don’t like it, you still tried something new! And now you can focus on giving your time to other things.
Give yourself grace in the process!
Finding a routine can take time, and it might take a few mistakes until you find what works for you. We learn a lot from our mistakes, and at a Christian college, you’ll find people who are learning, too. As we’re learning and figuring out a routine, we can trust that Jesus and the people around us will show grace. Remember to show yourself some grace, too.
Anja Oberg is a senior graduating from Houghton in December 2020. She is majoring in Inclusive Childhood Education with a concentration in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She is a part of the Houghton College Cross Country and Track and Field team, and has recently enjoyed the hobby of writing poetry.