SHEENA BARNETT: Tips for back to school



It’s been eight years since I was a student, but back-to-school season still excites me.

My nerdy side loves the fresh packs of pencils and packs of paper waiting to be filled with class notes.

I’m also a little jealous of kids who get to take a Guardians of the Galaxy lunchbox to school, although I guess there’s nothing stopping me from bringing one to the Journal.

But there’s more to back-to- school than accessories and supplies.

It’s about being prepared, mentally.

You have to study and learn, whether you’re in first grade, a high school freshman or a senior in college. But any kind of school requires you to be social, and that’s not always easy for a lot of us.

In grade school, you’re definitely more on the defense than you are in college.

Of course, there are bullies everywhere, even in college (and, trust me, in the workplace, too), but bullying is just worse when you’re younger. Basically your world fits inside the walls of those hallways and classrooms, and there’s an unfortunate hierarchy.

Especially in middle and high school, you barely understand yourself, much less anyone else, and for some, the only way to feel better is to make others feel bad. It’s messed up, but you don’t have to take it. And you certainly don’t have to dish it out in return.

If you can survive those years – and trust me, you can – you can survive most anything.

Bullying can continue into college, but the world is bigger, and hopefully your fellow classmates are a little more mature.

It’s easy to find your own group of friends, so long as you try.

College towns have a lot of distractions: parties, bars, parties, games, concerts, parties, shopping, parties … you get the idea. Those are great, and take advantage of the cool stuff (when you’re of age, of course). But don’t overdo it.

Chances are you’re paying for your education (and if you aren’t now, you’ll have a student loan ready to suck up your paycheck after you graduate), so make the most of it. Every university offers free lectures, awesome museum exhibits and more. Soak it all up.

No matter what, always be yourself.

If someone else doesn’t like it, that’s their problem. If bullying gets bad, tell someone. You aren’t alone.

Show some kindness to your classmates. You don’t know what they’re going through.

Study, learn, grow. It’s cool to be smart. Trust me.

And if you don’t understand something, ask. Everyone’s brains work differently, so what comes easily to you may not come as easily to others, and vice versa. That doesn’t make anyone stupid; it just makes us all different.

Have fun.

And – this goes back to the whole “being yourself” thing – carry a Guardians of the Galaxy lunchbox, or whatever kind of lunchbox you want.

It’s a great way to make new friends, and we can always use more of those.

Sheena Barnett writes about entertainment and news for theDaily Journal. Contact her at

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