Four weeks and two days until it’s over…
I don’t really know when this happened, it feels like yesterday I was buying my textbooks and deciding on which classes to add and drop.
I’m feeling a little nervous about it being so close to the end of the semester… Exams are starting to pile up. My final projects are due. I really need to get around to writing my thesis for my public finance class. Summer and Fall 2017 registration is going to start in about a week, so I need to do a final check on the classes I plan to take. And the day after the semester ends I’ll be getting on a plane to South Africa for my study abroad trip!
Earlier today I was getting extremely anxious (as I normally do when it comes to the end of semester) and took a minute to calm down, write down what I needed to get done, and compartmentalize my life. So, here are the ten things I learned at the end of last semester :
- Use a planner. I know that there are a bunch of people who say planners aren’t effective for them or that they can’t ever keep track of the planner or they don’t update it often enough so why bother… I call bullsh*t. You don’t need to update your planner on a daily basis, but look at your finals schedule, look at the deadlines for those papers and projects, and write them down. As a matter of face I recommend that you :
- Use another planner. Yep, I know that you might be scoffing “You’re already asking me to use one planner I think is stupid, now you’re saying to use two?” but I seriously find that I am so much less freaked out when I know exactly what day everything is going on. I recommend putting your important dates in at least one physical planner and then use either another physical planner or a digital one. You might forget to write down a deadline so when you check your planner and there’s nothing there you might assume nothing is due, but if – later that day – your phone sends you a calendar alert ‘Next tuesday, 10pg draft due’ you’ll be grateful.
- Use positive talk/be passive aggressive. When I make my calendar events in my phone I do a really quick reminder like : “OPMAN Ex 3” and I like adding additional notes like “you do actually need to study” to remind myself that I know I put off studying and I really can’t afford to. You could also use nice, positive notes, “You’re going to do great!” but don’t do that unless it will actually motivate you. Supporting someone who’s doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a good person. While I think it’s important to have confidence and not to think badly about yourself, sometimes you need to level with your own personality. If you’re a procrastinator (like me) embrace it and do what you can to change it, don’t sit there and tell yourself you’ll do fine on the exam, because you won’t if you don’t prepare. Go study!
- Know the grade you need to get before you start studying. I’m super weird about organizing and planning so I write down my grades in a few different places and I always know what I need to get on an assignment to get the desired grade in the class. I know that this seems stupid, “Why would I bother calculating my grade, I need an A!?” But you might not actually need an A, especially around finals time. If you’ve carried a B average all semester and you’re aiming to keep your B, you might only need to get a C on the final, or maybe you will need an A, but don’t start stressing until you actually know what you need for that exam. I’ve had a few cases where I started to study, then looked over the syllabus, calculated my grade, and realized I could get a 40 on the final and keep my A. Instant stress relief.
- Don’t eat like sh*t and tell yourself it’s okay because it’s the end of the semester. If you normally eat at Taco Bell every day, you do you and keep on keeping on. But if you’re like me and you try to make a concerted effort to be healthy on the daily, don’t binge on crap just because you have an “excuse.” Ordering your third pizza of the week might make you feel better for that last minute cram session but the next day when you’re trying to mentally calculate how many calories you consumed the day before you probably aren’t going to feel very good. When I know I have a ton of things due I make it even more of a point not to eat junk food, because at the end of the week, when I’m flipping out about how I forgot to add my bibliography to my paper and how I think I didn’t erase my scantron properly, at least I know I did something right with my life.
- Be real with yourself and your friends. If you know that you aren’t self-motivated, find a family member or really close friend to consistently remind you to focus (I don’t recommend asking your friends because they might feel responsible if you pass or fail). And if you are self-motivated but get easily distracted from your goals, tell your friends not to invite you out for two weeks. If they’re really your friends and interested in your success they’ll respect your wishes, you might feel left out for that time but use your last final as a reason to throw a party!
- Don’t measure yourself against everyone else. I can’t say this enough. Last semester I took Business Law II and I was one of two students who were taking the class as an elective with no intention of taking the CPA exam (the other person almost never came to class and I was surprised when they said they got a C). That meant that while I just thought that class was interesting, all of my classmates were taking the material and the exams extremely seriously. By the end of the semester I was begging my teacher for 0.4% of a point so I could get an A- in the class instead of a B+. I have not begged for a grade since high school geometry. I left the class before our final feeling defeated, I was going to get a B+. And then I asked myself, why do I care? I mean, yes I care about my grades and all but a B+ is perfectly respectable to me… And then I realized that the reason I cared was because everyone else in my class was constantly worried about memorizing the material which in turn made me super worried about memorizing the material. I felt like I had failed if I wasn’t going to get an A. It wasn’t until a few weeks after final grades posted that I remembered that I wasn’t taking the CPA and the material we were learning was fun trivia knowledge for me. Try to remember that the kid next to you probably has different life goals than you so you don’t need to want the same thing as them.
- Try not to study in bed. I’m a big believer in the philosophy that if you do things other than sleep in your bed you lose the automatic connection between bed and sleep. If you can’t study at a desk, study at your dining room table, study on the floor, in the living room, just not in your bed. If you’re already stressed and losing sleep you don’t want to have an added hurtle when you try to fall asleep.
- Take advantage of your free time. If you have free time around the end of the semester, use it! I love taking the dogs to the beach or a park. But you don’t have to go do something, you could just take that time to relax, take a nap. You could draw a picture, pose an instagram post, organize your closet (okay, that’s probably not relaxing to most people but it makes me feel better).
- Make sure your finances are in order. And do it before the barrage of insanity that is the end of the semester. At the end of fall semester is the holidays. At the end of spring semester is spring break and the beginning of summer. If you’re traveling you don’t want to be left scrounging for extra hours a week before your flight takes off. If you’re taking summer classes you probably don’t want to be worrying about how you’re going to cover that tuition. I’m not saying look a year into the future, but predict how much money you’re going to need at least a month before and a month after the semester actually ends so you know where you stand and how many shifts you can give up before you’re in hot water.
With the end of the semester upon me I’m ready to hunker down, get focused, and enjoy the fact that it’s almost over!
Until next time – Xx