Dear Student...

This was my first year enrolled at UW Whitewater as a transfer, non-traditional, veteran, psych major student. I took four classes during the first semester, three classes during the second semester, and was also involved in the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program all year. I work full-time at night and commute one hour.

Just like many of you, I need something more in my life. Education is the pathway to a different future. If I don’t finish school, I will stay where I’m at and that is not enough for me. I remind myself of this when I feel like giving up because it would be easier.

I have spent this year talking to students, faculty, friends, and family to try to determine the big question of what I want to do. I originally thought I wanted to be a neuroscientist, seriously, but realized that I’m perfectly okay with not going to school for 10 years.

Life pushed me in the direction of School Psychologist and I have been investigating that ever since. I have gone on two job shadows, done some research with the Graduate School Psychology Program, talked to professors, and have even made a vision board. For real; visualizing is important to me, it may not be for everyone.

So there is no secret to being successful in school. The professors want you to succeed. Follow the syllabus, read the pages, do the homework, ask questions. Staying organized is a very helpful thing for me. I write everything down and I go over my to-do list every day, sometimes twice. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. That’s when I break things down to one step at a time and prioritize what needs to get done first.

If I can tell I’m over-stressed, I recognize that I am being counterproductive, and take a break. I try to be preventative but I still get off track sometimes. What works for me is running, or a group fitness class, and regular yoga practice. My boyfriend also bought me an axe to chop a tree we had taken down. It’s different for everyone, but decompressing is easily the most important part of my experience.

If you feel like you don’t have time; I challenge you to really evaluate your schedule and see where you can squeeze in 20 minutes for yourself. Some nights I have to strap a headband on over my headset at work and vinyasa in my newly acquired stretch khakis. It’s not ideal, but I’m still finding time for the important things.

The important things are also the people you love. Having a good support system is clutch. Let them know that they are helping you become a happier, better version of yourself and don’t forget to appreciate them for it. Remember the goal is to graduate. Every decision you make should help you reach that goal. This investment of time and energy is just a small drop in the big bucket of your happy future.