Last year, I had a lot of gaps in my schedule — like, I’d have my first class at 10a.m., then a FIVE-HOUR break, and then class again. I learned how to deal with that in a way that worked extremely well for me, but this year I have back-to-back classes almost everyday, and while it might not be my favorite way to set my schedule, I’ll have to deal with that too. I know multiple classes in a row can be extremely exhausting (with good reason!) so if you’re worried about your back-to-back schedule (a.k.a. days that never seem to end) then, don’t worry, I totally feel you. We’ll just have to survive them together!
1. Eat a proper breakfast.
I’m not kidding about this; no matter how many jokes you hear people making about having gum for breakfast, or not eating since lunchtime yesterday, working on an empty stomach is NOT a laughing matter. If you have seven hours of class back-to-back, you won’t be having a grand time when you feel like you’re about to throw up because you haven’t eaten all day. Make yourself some breakfast, even if you have to wake up 30 minutes earlier to do it. In my post on how to make college life easier, I talk about a super cool frying pan that’s perfect for your dorm room and can help you cook breakfast efficiently, so you should check that out! I like to have my favorite cereal in the morning, and if I don’t eat that then I have scrambled eggs on some toast. It’s very possible to eat like a queen (maybe not the queen) while you’re in a dorm room. For tips on that, be sure to check out my post on how to cook meals in college.
2. Pack a quick snack.
Of course, you’re still going to get hungry somewhere in between even after having a good breakfast, so be sure to pack a snack. Most professors don’t really care if you eat in their class so long as you clean up after yourself and don’t make too much noise. You can likely get away with this easily if you’re in a large lecture hall (my freshman year, I used to eat a complete breakfast — sausage, eggs, hash browns — in my biology lecture), but if your class is tiny and you don’t want to piss off your professor, explaining your schedule to them and asking if it’s okay for you to sneak a quick snack during class can alleviate any of your worries.
3. Don’t stay back to try to speak to the professor in between classes.
I know, that sounds terrible — don’t get me wrong, speaking to your professor if you have questions or don’t understand the material is extremely important, but when you have back-to-back classes you can’t really afford to be late to your next class. Sometimes, 7-10 minutes to get to speak to your professor AND get to your next class won’t be enough. Besides, most professors would just tell you to come to their office hours with questions, anyway, so do yourself a favor and just hurry off to your next class. You can email them your concerns or visit their office hours for their full attention.
4. Get to your next class early so you can get the seat you want.
This ties into my previous point on why you should just email your professor rather than hang back to speak to him or her. If you hang back, you probably won’t make it to your next class on time and you’ll likely end up with a sucky seat, because people have no chill and will take your seat (though, we don’t technically own the seats) even though they’ve been sitting elsewhere the entire time already. Believe me, people can be savage when it comes to classroom seating. Last semester I loved sitting with my friends in this one class that I had right after another class, so if I didn’t make it to the fourth floor library classroom on time, someone else would take my seat (grrrr!).
5. Stay hydrated and get proper sleep.
I always bring water with me wherever I go. In my tips for saving money in college post, I suggested using a refillable water bottle so that you can save money and sip on it throughout the day. Besides, you’ll need something to wash down the snack you packed for yourself. Also remember to actually sleep! Despite how many all-nighters people brag about pulling when they get to college, not sleeping is actually not cool — it makes you miserable and unfocused. You will seriously feel like crap. If you don’t get enough sleep the night before, you’ll hardly be able to pay attention in any of your classes, so you’ll basically be a zombie all day long. This might sound very diva-ish but I always get eight hours of sleep because I know I can’t do anything properly with fewer; even six hours is a red flag for me. You won’t have any time to nap in between classes because, well, there is no in between classes if your schedule has you going to lecture halls one after the other!
6. Do all the homework that needs to be done ahead of time.
You don’t have any breaks in between classes to finish up the conclusion for your research paper, so make sure you get it completely out of the way ahead of time. You may also find that you have multiple exams in one day because of this type of schedule. Procrastination will NOT be your friend, so make sure you plan your time well so that you aren’t scrambling around for slivers of free time to study, or read an extra chapter, or wish that you hadn’t skipped your assignment so you could finish watching Grey’s Anatomy (love that show too much btw!!).
7. Use your “days off” wisely.
If you have a lot of back-to-back classes then chances are you might also have at least one or two days during the week where you have ZERO CLASSES. If this is you, I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda jealous. But really, days off mean nothing if you don’t use them wisely. As amazing as it feels to just kick back and browse Instagram and watch movies, make sure that this isn’t the only thing you do during your free days. Use your free days to get started on work that may be due in a few days or in a week or two. If you’ve fallen behind on school work or you just haven’t been able to understand the recent course material taught then you should use your day off to seek help and try to understand everything.
8. Stay as engaged as possible in every class — no nodding off!
Sitting and having to retain focus for a long time isn’t my specialty. I simply suck at it. I might be as attentive as a hawk for the first hour and then it all goes downhill from there. If you’re like me then you probably know that, like, six straight hours of class SUCKS, and sitting there while your brain is basically mush doesn’t make it any better. Stay as engaged as possible so that your brain stays as awake as possible. I find that when I actually raise my hand to participate in class (answer a question, ask a question, contribute to conversation, etc.) not only do I feel more active, but for some reason time seems to go by faster. I don’t know, that could just be me talking crazy, though. But my insanity aside, even doing small things like stretching before your next class begins can really help wake you up. Avoid napping during class — especially in those huge lecture halls!
9. Make friends in your classes.
I love talking to people before and after class, and just sitting with my friends during class. I don’t know why but having friends around you makes everything more lively and therefore more tolerable. If you aren’t lucky enough to have some of your friends in the same classes as you, make some new ones! Simply making small conversation with a classmate regularly is also great. I actually feel like I hate people a little less when I smile and speak to someone, haha!
10. If your schedule is too much for you, consider dropping a class.
This is one of the most important things to note when trying to survive a full back-to-back schedule: if you are struggling to keep up with it all, simply drop a class. Trust me, I know the feeling of wanting to take the maximum number of credits so that I can graduate on time (or even early, but one step at a time, haha). But loading yourself up and feeling miserable because of it is not worth it in my opinion. If you need to take a winter class or two because you couldn’t handle the extra class during the fall or spring semester, then so be it. Sure, you might be spending some more money on the intersession classes, but at the end of the day your personal well being is way more important.
11. At the end of the day, take some time to chill.
Without a doubt, you’ve had a long day, and even though you may be *super* eager to crack open even more textbooks after class is over for the day, at least take a brief moment to relax at the end of the day. I like to chill for about an hour — watch something on Netflix, play on my phone — before I go back to filling my head with journalism knowledge for class. Giving yourself some time to take a load off is a key ingredient for surviving such a full schedule — don’t overlook the power of some R ‘n R!
What’s your schedule like this semester? How do you plan to survive it?