How to survive the last few weeks of the semester

Celia Harmelink

With only a few weeks left in the semester before summer break, staying motivated can be a difficult feat for students. Dealing with final exams, papers and group projects all happening at once can become stressful and overwhelming.

Here are some tips and tricks for how to survive the remainder of the semester:

Plan ahead

For students, staying organized and keeping up with their work is important for finishing strong. Planning ahead can make a big difference and prevent rushing or cramming to get things done.

“For the last couple of weeks, I think it’s really about scheduling everything out and making sure you’re giving yourself enough time to do things and not cramming,” said Maeling Groya, graduate assistant in the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) and academic coach. “If you have time to get them out of the way, don’t wait until all of your assignments and all of your exams are at one time.”

Waiting until the last minute to finish assignments will only cause more stress. Having a clear, detailed plan and setting goals can be extremely beneficial.

“It’s just a lot of preplanning,” Groya said. “If all you do is wait for the Sunday before exam week to start studying, you’re going to be in frantic mode compared to others who didn’t, but it’s okay to struggle a bit during exam week.”

Study hard

Both Groya and Karel Swanson, a senior academic advisor at SASC, believe the best way for students to successfully study is to break down their time into one-hour blocks.

“Take three to five minutes to plan what you will accomplish in that hour, then do it,” Swanson said via email. “Study for 40 to 50 minutes. Take a brief break for five to seven minutes, grab a drink, text a friend and then go back to studying.”

Groya said these brief break periods are an important part of the study process.

“The biggest thing besides studying while focused is rewarding yourself, taking a break,” Groya said. “Simple things like going to the bathroom, getting something to eat or playing on your phone can break up the time and make studying more effective.

However, this doesn’t mean students should stay on their phones for long periods of time. This can quickly become a distraction that prevents students from getting any work done.

“It defeats the purpose of studying when you are constantly being interrupted by your phone,” Swanson said.

Take breaks

One of the best things students can do to help themselves relax during the last few weeks of the semester is to take breaks frequently. This could mean anything from hanging out with friends to watching television to going to the gym.

“Exercise is one of those big things where we don’t realize how important it is until we start stressing out and cramming for exams,” Groya said.

She believes moderation is key, however, when splitting time between work and play.

“If it’s nice outside, go for a walk,” Groya said. “If you normally go to the gym for an hour, go to the gym for an hour. But if you haven’t been doing that, I think it’s important to start doing it, but don’t do it instead of studying because then your stress comes from doing it.”

Swanson advises students to find encouragement from friends and family when things are especially difficult.

“Call someone who will encourage you—mom, grandma, friend, boss—whoever will help you feel motivated to continue to do your best,” she said.

Don’t stress

Just because things are stressful in the moment doesn’t mean they will be like that forever. Students need to remember to just breathe, because it’s only temporary.

“I think that my biggest piece of advice for students is that, in the reality of college or your lifespan or whatever, that this is a very small snippet of time and that people have made it through before,” Groya said.

These final few weeks may pass by quicker than students realize, so Swanson advises students to “take life one day at a time and give it your best effort.”

“If you look too far ahead, (it) is easy to become overwhelmed, but if you take each day as it comes and put forth your best effort, then when the end of the semester comes, you can look back and feel good about what you have accomplished,” she said.

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