Overcoming the overwhelming semester (opinion column)

Chris Slattery

Dear overwhelmed student,

I don’t want to alarm you further, but it’s only going to get harder from here.

Do you feel better? No?

Okay, well, that was really my only plan …

How about this: let’s work together for a solution. Professors keep piling on assignment after assignment, the amount of job-work never seems to end, and the voices keep telling you to do things you don’t feel comfortable with. Don’t worry; we can all empathize.

There are very simple steps to reduce your likelihood of becoming over-overwhelmed. Keep in mind that being simply overwhelmed is a normal part of the college experience, and the people in power – or PIPs – use it to drive students to excellence.

Or a nervous breakdown.

Either way, it is in neither the PIPs’ nor your best interest that you become bogged down with obligations, so there are some easy precautions to keep in mind. Now, these aren’t the typical tidbits you likely received from your parents and/or legal guardians when you were still living with them and thought (quite naively) that high school was hard. You likely know what I’m talking about: “Don’t wait until the last night to do a big assignment,” or “Don’t blow that paper off,” or “Don’t stop believin’! Hold on to that feeeeeling!”

I know that you know that they know that those words of wisdom — or WOWs — are futile, at best. They don’t apply to reality, where procrastination dominates and sleepless nights are commonplace.

So, here are some legitimate WOWs to live by that I have acquired through countless trial-and-error sessions that may or may not have stunted my GPA into the negative numbers:

1. This first one may seem silly and PIP-y, but plan ahead. Look, no one’s asking you to start your paper right away (except the person who assigned the damned thing), but no one is going to judge you for at least working out a thesis ahead of time. That can often be the most difficult part of the assignment, aside from filling up nine pages with coherent, typo-free sentences. And getting some of the planning done early is an enormous help. Just give yourself a couple of days for the idea to mull around and simmer before banging your head against your desk because nothing’s rolling around in there.

2. Talk to your friends. Chances are, if you have friends who don’t only exist in your head, they have some knowledge to help you out. For instance, your friend Cliff may have some Notes that could be of great assistance.

3. Don’t complain. Sure, a healthy dose of grumbling is always in order if you have to work an early shift before a class that has a big presentation due. However, based on the laws of time, the more time you spend on whining that it’s not fair, the less you have to do anything about it. Or, the less you have to procrastinate and play “Call of Duty” instead.

If these WOWs don’t raise your GPA, maybe the PIPs have already won.

Do you feel better now? No?

Okay, well, that was really my only other plan …

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