End-of-Semester Survival Guide
Though there's a lot of small pieces of advice we can give you when it comes to conquering the end of a semester, most of it boils down to one key point: keep yourself level-headed, at least as much as possible. Of course there are actual physical factors contributing to your stress as winter break draws near - deadlines, tests and what have you - but often, students cause themselves undue stress and worry. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you've convinced yourself you're not ready to take on an end-of-semester workload, that's probably true. So what can you do to keep in a positive state of mind?
1. Take breaks. Obviously you've got a ton of work to do during this period, but don't get so consumed by it that you forget to breathe. Try to craft a schedule for yourself that you have the discipline to follow - for example, take a 5-minute break every hour or 15 minutes off after every 120 spent hitting the books. Not only is nonstop studying frustrating, it's also counterproductive. You need to air out your brain (and move your legs!) every once in a while.
2. Keep a physical schedule. Along with the first point, make sure you're keeping track of what you have to get done and when you have to do it. That becomes much, much easier if you have a physical record - either on paper, on an app in your cell-phone, or on your computer - of the weeks leading up to and including your finals. The $4.99 or so it costs to buy a day-planner could be one of the best investments you make, or you can simply use the calendar app you already have on your phone! Scheduling helps you parse out your tasks such that you can order them and take them on one-by-one, which is a huge psychological help. Wouldn't you rather feel like you're working on one project instead of a dozen?
3. Stay on top of your work, and take things as they come. That's mostly the point of having a schedule to begin with. Look at what's due next or what test is coming up soon, and throw most of your energy into that. Prioritize. Even if your final in five days scares you silly, there's no real sense in worrying about it until you feel adequately prepared for your other final in two days.
4. Keep healthy. Take walks or go for jogs (maybe at your campus' indoor gym if you find yourself in cold climates). Get enough sleep to allow yourself to function properly. Eat! Eating could also be a good way to keep yourself social - make time in your studying to go down to the cafeteria with friends, or maybe trek off-campus for dinner to celebrate completing a final or other major project (so long as you've got nothing too significant looming the next morning).
5. Above all else, keep things in perspective. Though college performance is important, it isn't the most important thing in the world. Don't sacrifice your mental or physical well-being because you think it's going to get you a better grade. In actuality, it will probably hurt. If you've done all you can for a class and still don't think salvaging a decent grade is within your reach, you may have to let that one go this semester. Don't beat yourself up about it too much - you can always re-take the class. If nothing else, let it be a lesson to work harder at the beginning of the next semester and not put things off 'til the end. Spreading out your workload over a whole semester will make your life a lot easier and, believe it or not, more fun.
Are you in your first semester at school? Check out these survival tips!