As the semester begins with laughter and motivation, often times the end of the semester finishes with exhaustion and anxiety attacks. Students face an array of challenges throughout college from academic obstacles to time management difficulties. The best advice from a current student to other students, would be to prepare for the end of the semester at the beginning of the semester. Since we do not know what the future holds, we cannot be certain what this new semester will yield. We can anticipate that opportunities and challenges will both arise, although we do not know exactly when or to what degree. You can prepare for the end of the semester by developing time management skills, organizational abilities, and taking proper care of your body including stress management.
When you start the semester, you are more likely to have a few days during the first two weeks that are not so bombarded with academic deadlines. Use this time to your advantage and do not waste it. In college, time is priceless and if you do not strengthen your time management skills, you are likely to feel like you are drowning at times. Look through your syllabus and class schedules to see which assignments can be completed anytime during the semester. Is there an end of the semester project that you can complete early? Are there discussion board questions that you can submit ahead of time? Is there a research project that you can begin organizing now? These hints will help you change your mindset and save you a lot of anguish in the event that unexpected obstacles come up later in the semester. Balance your responsibilities, social events, and family life to ensure that you have adequate time for studying and course work. For example, a 3 credit hour course would require approximately 6-9 additional hours of study time outside the classroom. Each student is different and you may need more or less time to study. Remember, that you do not have to attend every social event in college, for each one missed there will be five more.
Organization has always been a challenge to me and I am sure it is for many students. My first semester of college reflected a nontraditional student walking into the classroom with papers loose, backpack full, books in hands, and nearly dropping it all on the floor before I sat down. I have realized that when I am taking 16 credit hours, I need to separate the classes in different backpacks. Normally, I will separate my Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes from my Tuesday and Thursday classes. This is the only system I have found that works. I have folders for each class and it is almost like two completely different “tool” bags. When I am taking a full course load online, I have 6 different binders that have a specific slot on my desk. Not only will this save your back from suffering, this also allows you to focus on one or two classes at a time. An old school filing cabinet has been one of the best investments in college. Throughout the semester, I can file old study guides, assignments, and completed quizzes. As you study for the end of semester finals, you can easily pull out your file for that class and study more efficiently. This saves you time and stress of trying to find that one assignment you completed at the very beginning that is vital to those extra points on your final now. Purchasing a good student planner at the beginning of the semester can help you stay organized on deadlines and test dates. The end of the semester will be more stressful and you may find it harder to remember what an instructor stated about extra credit early in the semester. This could benefit you by giving you some extra points that could make up for a bad test grade. If you cannot stay organized, you are likely to forget important dates or details. Organization pays off in the long run.
Psychological preparation is undoubtedly the most important way to prepare for the end of the semester. Many colleges offer a crash course in college life skills. At first glance, a student may feel that this class that is normally not transferable but offered, would be a complete waste of money and time. However, they will teach the student how to cope with the stress of college and bring awareness to the stress that peaks during the end of the semester. You can think of the end of the semester as being your last couple of weeks before a championship game. This game is essential to your success. Stress causes biological effects on the mind and body that can feel overpowering sometimes. If you can understand what is going on with your body, you can learn how to overcome some biological effects. For example, students are normally faced with sleep deprivation, lack of adequate nutrition, and an overload of stimulants to keep them awake during finals. This alone is an unhealthy concoction for the body and you will begin to crash eventually. Students can begin to lose motivation, feel irritable, and may feel depressed or anxious. These are all signs of stress and often referred to as “burn out.” Remember to prioritize your responsibilities and that begins with prioritizing your needs as a human being. Sometimes skipping a social event will allow you to catch up on sleep or taking a day off from academics to relax your mind will allow you to feel refreshed. Students often isolate themselves and keep their stress held inside until they explode. This recipe for disaster could be avoided by reaching out to a mentor, friend, or even a professor. Acknowledging that you are feeling stressed is half of the battle, reaching out for support is the other half that is often overlooked.
The end of the semester is a time period to feel proud of your accomplishments. You have endured another set of classes and you are almost ready for a break. Use your time wisely to avoid getting behind. Remember that time management is key to alleviating unnecessary stress. Organize your studies, schedule, and your down time to ensure efficiency and productivity. College is a balancing game and the end of the semester will challenge your ability to accomplish many tasks in a short amount of time. Remember that stress will cause your mind to boggle down if you are overloaded. Sleep is crucial to our health and our well-being. Memory making and consolidation, cellular repair, and information processing all take place during sleep. Skipping meals and neglecting the bodies nutritional needs can cause your immune system to go haywire. The body cannot carry out the essential functions without key nutrients. Stimulants can cause adverse effects on the heart and the brain, so use caution with energy drinks and too much caffeine. Counseling with someone you trust is not going to make you appear less of a student. It will considerably help you cope with stress that is associated with going through college. Have you ever heard the old saying, “If it were easy, everyone would do it?” Make a habit of researching tips and tools to assist you in handling the obstacles that students face during and especially at the end of the semester. We can learn from those who have walked before us and succeeded. Remember that knowledge is power.