As the weather warms up, trees begin to bud and the grass turns a happy shade of green, students can start to feel anxious and begin to lose motivation. Students are ready for warmth after an extremely long and wet winter, overwhelmed with the amount of homework and activities that are in full swing and frankly, ready to be done. As you continue your semester, here’s some advice from a senior who will soon graduate.
Regardless of what year or semester you are in, this time of year always adds some extra restlessness because students know they will soon get a break from classwork and exams. With that said, now is not the time to forget about homework or to stop attending classes. Now is the time to properly prepare for finals.
One of my favorite things to do prior to finals is to have a “Me” day. My “Me” day typically consists of cuddling my pets, eating some comfort food, watching old Disney movies and having a spa day at home. Whatever your “Me” day looks like, do it before Success Week. Do some homework ahead of time to prepare for a day off, then spend time doing what you love, eat what you want, take a nap, exercise or lay around watching your favorite shows to relieve stress. This gives your mind and body some needed relaxation, which can prepare your brain for what is to come. As difficult as it may be, try not to think about your long agenda. Focus on you and what you need to do so you can relax.
After taking a “Me” day, begin organizing a schedule. I’m a huge fan of to-do lists and it makes me happy when I can check something off of my list. Write out an organized to-do list of everything that needs to get done before finals. It will most likely be lengthy so I recommend breaking it up into sticky notes or individual pages in a separate notebook from your schoolwork to combat getting too overwhelmed. Write down all of the assignments that are due for each of your classes with the deadlines, write down your work or organization schedules, prioritize the order of assignments and then get a head start on your upcoming classwork.
Remember to take breaks while you prepare and during finals week. Taking breaks helps calm your mind and helps you come back to an assignment with a clear head. If it helps, set a timer. Work for 20 minutes at a time, take a break and repeat. Don’t start studying with the intention that you have to finish everything you are working on in one sitting. This will stress you out and it can make it more difficult to remember the information.
Finally comes the dreaded finals week. During the week before, write down a list of your finals and their scheduled times and locations along with a list of what you still need to do to successfully finish finals. If you have essays or research papers, organize your sources, do final research prior to writing or get feedback from a classmate or professor. If you have projects, write down the tasks you need to do to successfully accomplish it. If you have presentations or speeches, finish your presentation before finals week and use this week to practice giving your presentation. If you have multiple choice or short answer exams, study one day at a time, write down information multiple times to help you remember and definitely do not leave it until the night before. You will not remember.
If you are struggling with organizing tasks for finals, visit Mabee Library to meet with tutoring services, First Year Experience instructors and volunteers or schedule a visit with a trusted faculty member to get some advice or a much needed pep talk. I have done this a time or two.
Lastly, during finals do what helps you get energized in the morning, whether that is drinking coffee, exercising or something else, and get good rest before and during finals. Staying up late to finish an essay or project will not help you. Manage your time wisely so you don’t stay up all hours of the night.
A couple years ago, I remember I was talking with my mother about graduating. I was worrying if I would graduate with the grades and the GPA I wanted. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude. She said she has added this accomplishment to her resumes and she has had the diploma in her office for each job she has had since she graduated and no one has ever mentioned it. Her comment resonated with me. Grades are important, but not as important as your mental health. Take care of yourself.