This point of the academic semester fills faculty, staff and students with fear and excitement. The fear comes from the fact that there is so much to get down before the end of the semester. The excitement comes from the fact that we will all get to have a well-deserved break.
Which of these two emotions is stronger depends on how well you planned for the end of the term. If you have set a good pace to get your work done, if you have not procrastinated and if you have planned ahead, you are probably looking forward to rest and relaxation with little stress at this time.
If you are like most of us, you are thinking about the papers, reports, and exams you have to get done prior to enjoying the break. I am sorry to say that I fall into this category just like most of the faculty, staff and students I speak with. That’s right, even the faculty and staff feel rushed.
Here are a few suggestions I can give you that may take some of the pressure off you during the final couple of weeks of the semester.
1) Don’t give up. You have faced things far harder than this before. I am sure if you really think about it, you have powered through difficult times before and if you work hard, you can power through finals week as well.
2) Create a plan. Figure out what you need to do. Calendar it. Provide ample time to get things done by breaking big tasks into smaller ones. Work a couple of hours on one class and then switch to another class.
3) Work with others. For most people, working and reviewing with others helps them to learn the material better. Quiz one another and ask questions. Remember to stay on track though. If you start talking about Monday Night Football, you probably will not do well in your biology class.
4) Start early. Don’t cram. Start studying and reviewing a couple of weeks in advance. It may seem silly to start studying for a test two weeks ahead of time, but if you are studying in two-hour blocks, this will be needed. Remember, your brain will shut down after a few hours, so pulling an all-nighter doesn’t really help much.
5) Get rest. You mind needs rest and sleep. You actually move short-term memories into long-term memory while you sleep, so if you really want to remember material, get some sleep prior to your tests.
6) Quiz yourself. Try to imagine what questions will be asked on the tests you will be taking. If you develop the right questions and can answer them, you will be able to provide the correct answer on the test as well.
7) Don’t beat yourself up. If you truly worked hard and tried your best, don’t get mad at yourself. I have seen many students who do not do well on their first test of the day and then have difficulties the rest of the day because they cannot forget the earlier poor performance. If you do not do well, set it aside and start working on the next test or assignment. You can worry about the poor performance later. Right now, your biggest worry should be your next test or assignment.
To close this article, I wanted to provide you with some great words of wisdom. Something that would inspire you to go out and push the envelope. However, I kept coming back to one line from a not so great philosopher – Larry the cable guy – “Git R Done.”
Happy Holidays to everyone. Enjoy your break, and I hope to see you back in January.