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Jemina Kirke, Lena Dunham, and Zosia Mamet sitting on a park bench holding books and ice cream cups in this image from Apatow Productions
For Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) and her friends, school is a constant point of worry and concern. (Image: Apatow Productions)

As a new school year approaches, “Girls” offers some guidance from an illustrious set of characters who were students not too long ago. 

Girls” is full of wisdom, and it’s hardly a surprise — those cunning 20-somethings sure know a thing or two about life. When half the cast is either still in school or perennially thinking about going back, it makes perfect sense that they could impart some relevant lessons on the matter. As summer nears its end and the fall approaches, let’s prepare for a new school year by taking a page from the schoolbook of Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham).

Do you resonate with any of this school advice? Let us know in the comments! 

Believe In Yourself

A visibly worried Lena Dunham sitting on some front steps with her legs crossed over her knees in this image from Apatow Productions
School can be very demoralizing, which is all the more reason to have faith in yourself and be your own strongest supporter. (Image: Apatow Productions)

Apologies in advance for getting corny, but one of the most important lessons “Girls” teaches us about going back to school is believing in ourselves. Think of when Hannah gets admitted to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop — a selective and highly competitive MFA program that’s widely considered the best in the country. Despite seeming like a lackluster applicant by most standards, Hannah decided to apply even if it was a long shot and, much to her surprise, managed to get in.

There’s an important lesson about being your own supporter and cheerleader, even when you have doubts about yourself. While it’s natural to doubt our own abilities the way Hannah did, having blind faith in ourselves to supersede that also pays off. After all, when there are already plenty of challenges and critics out there, we need all the support we can get — and sometimes the call needs to come from inside the house.

Don’t Procrastinate

Jemima Kirke and Zosia Mamet sitting in front of a laptop on what appears to be a video call in this image from Apatow Productions
Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is famously the instigator in the group, often distracting her friends and derailing plans. (Image: Apatow Productions)

We’re not talking about homework and other big assignments. Remember when Shoshana (Zosia Mamet) almost didn’t graduate because she failed a required course during her last semester at NYU? With no opportunity to retake the class at a subsequent term, our favorite fashionista almost had to stay another semester, which would’ve cost a pretty penny.

Completing required courses early in your degree is probably smart. That way, you won’t have to upend your graduation plans and timeline if you get a low grade or aren’t able to register in time. But we understand that sometimes you have to take a required course or two at the end of your studies. Just try your best, and hopefully, you won’t fail. Learn from Shosh and try not to satisfy requirements with boring courses — surely the fact that it was “glaciology” contributed to her poor performance, even if she was dealing with a breakup at the time.

Double-Check Your Schedule

Lena Dunham looking stressed while sitting with her laptop in her messy bed in this image from Apatow Productions
School has many important deadlines, including those for adding and dropping courses. (Image: Apatow Productions)

“Girls” offers cautionary tales when it comes to dating while in school. It’s not just Shosh — Marnie (Allison Williams) also has her own stories to tell. In Season 3, she comforts Shosh by sharing an anecdote about a time when she also failed a course because she started hanging out with a boy instead of going to lecture, and eventually forgot she was still enrolled in the class. As tempting as it is to spend Tuesday and Thursday afternoons cuddling on the couch instead of going to Econ 101, your GPA might suffer. If you really can’t help yourself, at least make sure to drop the class.

Forgetting to drop a course is more common than you think, especially when you have a ton of deadlines thrown your way. By the time you realize what’s happening, it might be past your school’s deadline, and you might end up with a big “W” on your transcript. Even worse, the entire semester might come to pass without you realizing you were enrolled, in which case your grades might include at least one “F” for failing to show up to the exam. Save yourself the trouble and don’t forget to double-check your schedule for accuracy.

Grad School Isn’t for Everyone

A wide-eyed Jemima Kirke resting her arms on the back of the couch while staring off-camera at the ceiling in this image from Apatow Productions
Like other characters in the show, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) struggled in school and eventually dropped out of her program. (Image: Apatow Productions)

One of the first things we learn about Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is that he dropped out of his Ph.D. program due to internal turmoil. While there were times when he seemed to stand by his choice, there were many moments when this modern-day Renaissance man expressed regret. One of Ray’s biggest dilemmas throughout the series was whether or not to go back to school and finish his studies. While he once came close to enrolling as a student again, he changed his mind when his boss offered him the opportunity to be a manager at his own coffee shop.

In the end, Ray was perfectly happy not going back to school — a fair and valid choice that worked out for him, especially as it meant he was able to save some money. His circumstances make him one of the most relatable characters on the show. Many people often feel pressured to go back to school as a way of changing their careers or improving their lot, but it’s worth keeping in mind that there are other ways to accomplish those goals.

Don’t Neglect Your Diet

Patrick Wilson placing an order at a coffee shop in this image from Apatow Productions
College is when we start drinking coffee, but it’s important not to push our limits. (Image: Apatow Productions)

One of the memories Elijah (Andrew Rannells) shares about his college days is that he kept a strict, almost-daily burrito diet with his then-girlfriend Hannah. It’s true that college students are constantly busy — for good and bad reasons — and that burritos are a convenient, practical meal. It’s also true that eating the same thing is an easy, almost unavoidable trap. But there’s no denying that it’s unhealthy for your body.

Eating well while in school can be challenging for a number of reasons. You don’t have your parents cooking your meals anymore, and resisting a late-night Taco Bell run with your roommates is out of the question. To top it all off, now you need 10 cups of coffee to function. Maybe there are healthy eating habits you can cultivate. At least chase your Baja Blast with some water!

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham, and Allison Williams as three college friends hanging out in this image from Apatow Productions
School brought Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends into the same orbit, but they stayed together long after graduation. (Image: Apatow Productions)

Above all else, don’t forget to have fun. You know what they say: college is where you make lifelong friends. The saying is empirically true, and there would be no “Girls” if our leading ladies hadn’t crossed paths at Oberlin.

As stressful as school can be, it can also be many times easier than what comes next. Whether you’re in high school, college, or beyond, going to class is oftentimes better than going to work full-time, so enjoy it while it lasts. Most importantly, don’t forget that you have your whole life ahead of you. Your school years are a special time in life, but contrary to what you hear, there are great things to come afterward, too.

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