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How to Prepare for the First Semester

Now that the hard part of getting started is over, let's see what tools are available to make your life easier. You might be thinking, what do I actually need...?

Mac or PC?

Some of you may wonder if you need a Mac or a PC. It makes no dramatic difference in school so go with personal preference. Make sure it can capture and review video, perform word processing and power point presentations and you'll be set. Use of a noise-cancelling headset is helpful for those hard-to-concentrate moments and for listening to classmates’ videos.

Work Space

In regard to space, what works best for you? A quiet workspace, or are you able to concentrate amidst chaos and noise? Personally, I like to switch it up a bit. I have a desk that is dedicated to schoolwork in my apartment, though I enjoy working at the dinner table and other little nooks and comfortable spots. When I need a change of scenery, I load up my computer and head to a coffee shop. Sometimes I get the best ideas for my papers when I put myself in new environments, it just wakes up my brain a little. Leaving your house also forces you to get something done or waste a trip!

Other Tools

Important tools include a notebook that is dedicated to school. One important thing I have to say is that when you are purchasing or renting your textbooks, check very carefully that you are ordering the right edition of the book required for your course. I have also found that highlighters are my best friend, at least when I am reading a long paper. As a social work student, you will be required to research quite a bit, which involves reading tons of journal articles, some of which can be very lengthy. Because things can get hectic, I always keep a planner to organize my homework assignments, meetings, work schedule, or any reminders that come up along the way. Seriously, I never leave home without it because I have a poor memory and want to be as organized as possible.

Just Breathe

Last and most importantly, arm yourself with a positive attitude. I know you may think this is cliché, but keep those thoughts positive and encouraging! Becoming a student again can be challenging, but you can do anything you put your mind to, so push away any negative statements and remember how awesome you are! Investing in yourself and your education is the smartest choice you have ever made. If ever you feel confused or need help, I have found the staff at OLLU to be very helpful and patient, and my classmates have always been helpful when I reach out. Just remember you are not alone in this adventure, so make the most of this wonderful chance you have in pursuing your degree in social work.

About the Author

Jessie Chism

Jessie Chism currently lives in New Jersey and is two years from graduating from OLLU with her MSW. Finding inspiration in the outdoors, she spends countless hours hiking, paddle-boarding, and hanging at the beach, all while carrying a notebook to jot down great ideas and reminders. As a child, she grew up on a farm in Indiana, which is where all of her family still lives. Looking in cracks and crannies for ideas and techniques to make the daily adventures of life easier and more manageable is Jessie’s specialty!