For the past nine months, I haven’t had any traditional homework. I had a full-time summer job at home, six months at my co-op and a part-time job on-campus as a barista. The routine of getting up, going to work and ending the day after clocking out became so normal to me. Before this working streak, from kindergarten up until last June, my life had been a cycle of nine months of school followed by a three-month-long summer break. I was excited to get back to campus and see my favorite professors, but the realization that I had to do homework hit me harder than expected.
When I got to my first class, I had to re-learn the motions of getting the syllabus and going through the uncomfortable introductions. It was when I read these syllabi that the back-in-class life tumbled on me. I saw assignment dates, presentation times and big paper topics. I temporarily panicked as I scrambled to remember how to organize all these looming assignments and get my brain back into the mode of writing everything down for the week.
Last Wednesday, I woke up with my head buzzing. I didn’t write anything down on Monday so I wasn’t sure if I missed small initial assignments or forgot to buy textbooks that were going to be used in class. At the beginning of every lecture, I held my breath in anticipation hoping they wouldn’t bring up a blackboard post or email I was supposed to send. Luckily, none of this happened and I found comfort in knowing that during week one, nothing is due. So I stopped worrying for this week, but the idea of future assignments floated over my head after leaving class and throughout the weekend.
The mindset change was the biggest setback by far. On co-op, I would come home from work and that was the end of the day. Nothing to work on afterwards and no planning out when to do assignments. Though the “9 to 5” schedule had a certain level of monotony at one point during the six months, it was nice to actually have an end to the day. The extension of work after a full day of classes was unfamiliar to my newly adapted work-only brain.
To any freshmen who have fall-winter co-op cycles, I would highly recommend taking one class outside of work to keep your brain in a semi-school mindset. My experience of jolting from full-time work to full-time school in a single week is one I would not put on other people. If you don’t have room in your schedule to have even one class, try to keep up with some academic related hobbies, such as a club or certain reading just to keep the gears spinning. Changing from class to co-op is a big step and even small solutions can help in huge ways.