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Back To School Checklist: How To Win The Game

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I love the first few weeks of the semester. During my exposure to the corporate world this summer at my internship, I yearned for certain aspects of structure and planning that could only be satisfied in an academic setting. I reminisced about the days of color coding my planner during the first week of classes. I cherished memories of my brief (yet frequent) visits to office supply stores (both in person and online). I wanted to relive that one minute where I would open the door to my first lecture room class, my heart pounding as I scanned the room and staked my claim to a seat.

Whether you are in a professional or educational environment, there is always a game to be played. Each entity has its own set of players, rules, obstacles and a goal to be achieved. Each game requires a skillful strategy, a motivational drive for success and, most importantly, a plan – a plan that continues to evolve as the game progresses.

Allow me to first establish my credibility. First and foremost, I am no expert. Rather, I am merely an insightful observer who would like to impart my fellow JSOM students a few words of wisdom, wisdom I wish I would have known when I first started the game. As a result, I have compiled a checklist that I hope you will utilize in order to win your game of success.

  • Copy a weekly schedule of your classes from UT Dallas Galaxy. Either print out the schedule and place it somewhere accessible (planner or binder), or take a screenshot on your phone. In order to win the game, one of the skillful strategies that must be implemented is time efficiency. There is no need to invest unnecessary time logging into your Galaxy account five minutes prior to your class start time to figure out where you need to be. Get your bearings in advance.
  • Take advantage of student resources. Did you know that some professors place their syllabus on the UT Dallas CourseBook? You can print out a copy of the syllabus, find out what textbook you need and view additional class details. Familiarize yourself with useful information in advance.
  • Really, really take advantage of student resources. Whether you are an incoming freshman, a transfer student or you are coming back to school after being on the bench for a while, walk into the Jindal School Career Management Center and attend a workshop, review your resume or formulate a plan for your career track. It is never too early or too late in the game to have a plan.
  • Invest in a good planner. You can create your own personal planner using external sources. The UT Dallas Bookstore also offers planners as well. Print out your degree plan and glue it to the inside front cover of your planner. When the time to make that regular trip to the Academic Advising Office rolls around, you will already have an idea of the coursework you will need to take the following semester. Adding a sense of tangibility to your plan is a skillful strategy to keeping your goals continuously aligned.
  • Gain exposure to JSOM outside your classes. This is one piece of advice I wish I had followed earlier in the game: I wish I would have branched out of my comfort zone. JSOM has an array of student organizations. The wise Jack Welch once said, “I never want to be the smartest person in the room.” In order to succeed in the game, you must always be willing to learn not just from your coursework and from yourself, but also from others. One of the most beneficial outlets of learning from others is attending an organization’s meeting, whether that may be Toastmasters or the Entrepreneurship Club. JSOM has an array of extracurricular activities that can cater to your vision and aid you in your game of success.
  • Don’t forget to pause the game every once in a while. There is a lovely JSOM cafe that is more than happy to pump some caffeine into your veins or offer a sandwich or two for sustenance. It’s okay to take a break. Come out of those JSOM study and see the light of day. Refresh, re-energize and recuperate, so when you un-pause, you are ready to get back in the game with an even better sense of focus.

And remember: this is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. A little scary, a little challenging at times, but ultimately, fun. Remember to have fun and never lose sight of the crucial goal: to win this game so you can move on to the next big one.

Suraiya Rahmetulla

Suraiya Rahmetulla loves learning: whether that may be in the real world, the academic world or just about any other world. She loves learning (specifically at the Jindal School) so much that she is currently pursuing a dual degree in Information Technology & Systems and Finance and is a new member of the CMCLC. You can usually find her either in a corner re-reading The Hound of the Baskervilles for the hundredth time or binge watching Peter Sellers and Charlie Chaplin movies. Read more articles

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