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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Hit the ground running!


September 4, 2019

Life Hacks

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Summer is officially over and hello second year of grad school! Whether you are a prospective student or current student in the Division, I hope that you are remaining present as you return to school, work, or are managing everyday life. In order to get prepared for the fall semester, here are 5 tips that helped me hit the ground running.

1. Develop a weekly schedule

This visual weekly schedule provides me with the opportunity to get adjusted to the layout of classes, fieldwork, ambassador work, leisure, and play! I begin to work on this schedule the week prior to classes starting and readjust accordingly during the first week of school.

Develop a weekly schedule

2. Use a planner

I love planners! Being able to have a monthly grid and daily breakdown of weeks, helps me recall important deadlines and keeps me up to date on tasks that need to get completed. I know this sounds very structured, but I have seen other peers use this strategy successfully. As the semester progresses time seems to go by quicker, so forgetting to do a reading, missing an assignment or not submitting a work project can induce some anxiety. Some alternatives to getting a planner are creating a daily to-do list on a sticky note or setting reminders on your phone. Figure out what will be best for you to remain organized during the semester!

Use a planner

3. Learn to say no

Trying to have a healthy balance in school is critical to my well-being. During my first year in the program, I definitely spread myself thin. I was a graduate housing resident assistant, volunteered in my ministry, encouraged family and friends during important milestones, studied for the adult rehab and mental health immersion, was the maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding, and much more. After the completion of my first year, I realized that in order to be an effective student I could not say yes to everything. I needed to set boundaries with how many times to go out with family and friends, how to devote my time to extracurricular activities, and I needed to determine what my priorities were. It is okay to protect your time and sanity, so you can excel in the program. After all, that is why you are here!

Learn to say no

4. Create a conducive environment for studying

Moving back home for my second year, I realized that my environment would be changing and thus it would impact where I would be studying for the semester. I began to trial areas in my home and nearby coffee shops, to determine what environment would support me with remaining focused. I ended up finding a great hole in the wall coffee spot and organized my dining room table as a plan B. Have you considered which environment is conducive to maximize your productivity?

Create a conducive environment

5. Ask for help

My go to tip! I see myself as a lifelong learner, so being able to ask for help provides me with guidance and awareness to be an informed person. Even though I am a second year student, I still do my best to reach out to faculty, mentors, and peers for support to navigate school. Faculty at the Chan division truly want to see every student succeed, so I try my hardest to visit professors’ office hours if I have questions. Mentors help remind me of my mission with OT and remind me in moments of uncertainty that I am where I need to be. Peers hold me accountable to working hard in the classroom and help me find a balance between work and play.

Ask for help

Whether you are a current or prospective student, feel free to reach out to the ambassador’s email to receive further support to navigate student life. We are here for you and want you to feel confident when you hit the ground running!