Back to School: Mentally Preparing to Return to College

Jake Newby

| 6 min read

Parents and young kids aren’t the only ones planning for the new school year in August. By the time the middle of the summer rolls around, college students have to start thinking about their fall schedule of classes and how to juggle school, social life and in many cases, a job. Many students are also returning to dorms or on-campus apartments after living at home all summer.
The school year can be a grind, so getting organized and implementing self-care strategies can keep students from feeling overwhelmed. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s corporate communications 2023 summer interns are getting back to that grind now. But before they said goodbye to the summer and hello to the new school year, they shared their thoughts on readjusting and what they plan to do to stay level-headed this fall.
Here's who we chatted with:
  • Caitlyn Begosa: Sophomore, Syracuse University
  • Jozlynn Blakenbaker: Senior, Wayne State University
  • Maria Cassel: Senior, Butler University
  • Olivia Durkee: Senior, University of Michigan
  • Mike Merucci: Senior, Michigan State University
  • Jenna Natwick: Senior, Michigan State University
Going from a summer intern – with a relatively laxed schedule – back to a full-time student can be a challenge. What are you starting to think about, and what adjustments do you plan to make?
Blakenbaker: “I feel that since the internship was a 9 to 5, it’s so easy to have that as the time you get used to working during. Because for me, I have classes that end at like 8 p.m. So now, it’s going to get harder to balance things again. It’s not like 9 to 5, straight forward.”
Natwick: “I’m definitely nervous because I’m going to be doing those big capstone courses for seniors. It’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve to get back into that heavy work ethic, especially with the weirdness that was my last semester at school. Everything was kind of chilled out at the end of the semester after the (MSU) shooting. So, it’s going to be an adjustment getting back into the more rigid due dates and larger assignments.”
Cassel: “I use a Google Calendar and I find all my courses and their times and locations and put them all in my calendar, so they’re already in there. Then I add in all the breaks and stuff like that. Because once the school year gets started I just don’t have enough time and I get too busy.”
Begosa: “I started using a planner a couple of weeks before school, too. So, I can get used to it again. Tasks for the internship, events I’ve had like concerts, vacations. And just basic to-do’s like clean my room, do this, do that. My time management is kind of poor so I’m trying to get a strong start on that.”
Blakenbaker: “Yeah, I’m a big planner. I already have all my classes listed in my planner. I really value my planner and make everything super specific in it. It makes me feel better, I feel like if it’s there on paper it doesn’t have to be all over the place in my mind.”
A lot of you returned to your family home for the summer. What are your thoughts on returning to campus life and how are you preparing to do so?
Natwick: “I’m starting to think about packing. Getting everything ready is the priority for August. I’m going to be living in an apartment for the first time so I’m trying to make sure I have everything in order. I made a spreadsheet with my roommate so that we know what we’re each bringing. And I have a personal checklist of the stuff that I want to bring, as well."
Cassel: “I live in a sorority house, so I’m trying to mentally prepare to live with 80 girls again, ‘cause last year was a very difficult adjustment for me … we have a cold dorm, so we all sleep in one big room. It’s like a big room upstairs with like 40 bunk beds. So, it’s always a shift from having my own space (in the summer) to living with 80 people. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I can’t watch movies in bed at school. There’s no noise and no sound allowed in the cold dorm. So being able to do that at home and do work from my bed at home is something I really cherish when I’m at home.”
Natwick: “I’m also starting to think about feeding myself. Because I’m going to cook for myself, exclusively, for the first time. I’ve been gathering some recipes I’m interested in making and basic meal ideas so come school time I know what ingredients I need to have in my fridge.”
Practicing self-care to stay mentally healthy is important. How do you plan to do that this school year?
Merucci: “I’d like to focus on making sure I get enough sleep. Because I don’t have 8 a.m. classes this semester for the first time in my college career. The fact that I don’t have to go in until 10 a.m. means I can finally, maybe, get enough sleep. I’d say I was never getting consistently enough sleep. I’d like to make that an everyday occurrence this year.”
Durkee: “I try not to do any studying or homework past 8 p.m. I’ve felt like in the past if I just push through being tired I don’t really retain the knowledge that way. And also I need time to unwind and relax, and not study up until the second I fall asleep.”
Cassel: “This will be my first semester doing 400 level courses. I’ll have an internship when I go back to school, and sorority stuff, I’m in the business fraternity. So, it’s a lot of moving parts that get really stressful. So, I always try to carve out an hour in the day where I can do something that I want, whether that’s go for a walk, go to the gym or do something for me because otherwise I’d go insane.”
Begosa: “I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately on how last semester went. What went poorly, what went well, so I can implement more routine and structure into my life. And I think how I’m going to do that is plan a morning routine, do my skin care every morning, every night. Get breakfast at a certain time because last year things like that were really go with the flow and it got disorganized and kind of stressful. I want to have more structure this year.”
Check out some of the work from BCBSM interns this summer:
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association