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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are You Experiencing the Back to School Blues?

Initially, my message was aimed at the folks ages eighteen to thirty. I soon realized that the faces of today’s college students extend beyond that range; what a blessing.

As you prepare for the upcoming school year, you will be faced with challenges and many may appear to be more taxing than they actually are.

My goal is to provide you with tools that are aimed to empower. Several students’ emailed questions and I will share with you my responses to a selected few:

I will be attending a large university, what if I’m overwhelmed by the campus size: To lesson possible anxiety, sign up for a college tour, make several visits to the campus ahead of time, route out your classes and get acquainted with the college grounds prior to your first day of class.

I’m not sure if I can do this. I may not be intelligent enough: Stop the self doubt. You would not be on that campus if you could not cut it. Brilliance is born every day and it does not have a pre selected zip code. You did the work and earned the right to be on that campus. Believe in your greatness.

I’m attending college out of state, I don’t know anyone: I can recall my first day of Grad School. I was nervous and as soon as I entered my first class, a young lady with the most beautiful smile came up to me and stated, “Hi, I’m Adrienne.” She and I continue to share a beautiful friendship. Trust that GOD will place the “right” folks within your life. Also, you will be placed in situations that will force you to connect with others (special projects, study groups, work study programs, social organization…etc).

I’ve always had problems with setting aside time for my studies: It’s about creating a “FINE BALANCE”. Setting aside time for studies must become a priority. Achieving this may require that you let go of some of your prized extracurricular activities but you will adjust. That time will be filled with the educational investment you are making in yourself.

I’m in my forties and returning to school after a long absence. What if I become frustrated, unsure and overwhelmed: First, accept the reality that at times you will feel frustrated, unsure and overwhelmed. To feel those emotions is perfectly normal.
  • Arm yourself with a strong support system
  • Utilize Campus supports (Counselors, tutoring services, therapeutic services to assist in the processing of feelings and to aid in the development of coping skills if needed)
  • Post affirmations reminding yourself that you are deserving and have within you the capacity to achieve greatness
Will I have professors who are sensitive to my needs and how can I ensure that my needs are met: First and foremost, it is vital that the expectations are understood. In addition, they should be outlined in the class syllabus. If you do not understand the expectations, meet with your professors; their office hours should be posted. I must note that even if you understand what is expected; meet with your professors anyway. Trust me when I state my professors knew Mary E. Gilder. They knew that I was dedicated and serious about my education. Building a positive relationship with your professors will pay off tremendously.

Please provide tips for organizing myself:
  • A Large wall calendar
  • A Planner for the entire school year
  • An organizer. Organize materials by class
  • Find a special spot that is soothing and will nurture your creative flow. Retreat to that location when you need to work on projects or relax your mind
  • Most importantly, accept that this is your way of life for the next Semester. Take it one day at a time. Make it fun and embrace this great journey
Remember, if those who came before you rose to the occasion, so will you. Regardless, of your age, this is an amazing adventure. As you stroll across that campus lawn and pave the pavement, never forget that this is not for nothing. And for the more seasoned students, the forty over club, stop feeling as though you are too old. It’s never too late to go out and claim your goals. If self doubt should creep in, tell yourself, “I can do this, I can do this.” Post affirmations and have your cheer leaders because you will need them; we all need cheer leaders.

Finally, when your work load is outrages and you wonder if it’s all worth it, visualize your family and friends cheering in the stands as that Degree is placed in your hands. And the pride you will feel in knowing that you have found within in you the courage to step out on FAITH and claim your destiny.

Love, Peace and endless Joy, Mary E. Gilder

Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself. You can contact her at or Also visit her website at

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