Achieving Academic Success Without the Stress

Mark Pieloch left the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health in Boston in 1980 with a bachelor’s and a master’s, graduating magna cum laude. He went on to the University of Michigan and earned an M.B.A., again graduating magna cum laude. Excelling as a student, he discovered ways to balance the chaos of student life and succeed academically.

Finding Ways to Reduce Stress

Freshman students quickly discover that college is different. More chaotic and less structured, college life may seem overwhelming. For example, Pieloch had only been a student in Boston for a month when his car was stolen. The stress level can be tremendous, but there are ways to reduce the stress and find balance amidst the chaos.

A few basic lifestyle habits will keep the mind and body strong. Getting enough sleep is probably one of the most difficult challenges of college life, especially for students who live in a dorm. But getting enough sleep is also the most beneficial. A lack of sleep leads to poor decision making and slower thought processes. Schedule a night each week to go to bed early. Take naps when possible.

Physical exercise is also necessary. Exercise does not have to be a full-blown workout at the gym. It can be a 20-minute walk around the quad or to an off-campus eatery. Moderate exercise reduces anxiety and stress levels and enhances recuperative sleep. Avoid binge and junk-food eating. Work vegetables and fruit into your diet.

Making Study Time Count

Scheduling study time is important, but so is social and leisure time. Deadlines, exams and academic pressures take their toll. Research shows that taking breaks for leisure and social activities actually improves academic performance. Pieloch, for example, went to school in Boston, a city with a vibrant nightlife and historically significant past. Part of his college experience included exploring and experiencing Boston.

Students get as much out of the college experience as they put into it. Most schools have a variety of clubs and societies that cover every interest from poker to juggling. Writing stories or taking pictures for the school newspaper is a fun way to get involved. Many schools sponsor volunteer opportunities that are design to help other students or assist in the local community. Participating fully in college life and making new friends is part of student life not to be missed.

Studying in college presents its own challenges. A lack of privacy, noise and the temptation to procrastinate now and cram later, disrupt study time and affect information retention. Designate a time to study every day and stick to the schedule. Take 10 minute breaks every hour. Review class notes. Use highlighters to highlight essential concepts for quick review. Rewrite notes within 24 hours for maximum retention. Remember that cramming is not learning. Learning means that information becomes part of a student’s long-term memory. Cramming actually has the opposite effect because it’s a short-term memory process. Most of the information retained by cramming is quickly forgotten.

Mark Pieloch’s education and academic excellence gave him the foundation to become the successful entrepreneur he is today. With the strategies he learned in college to handle stress and balance academics, he learned not only how to excel in school, but excel in life.

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