End-of-semester stress & how to deal with it

 I finally finished my summer classes last week, and I’m still waiting on the grades for them. I’m pretty sure I aced both my classes but there’s always that feeling that you might suddenly fail all your classes even though you completed and did well on everything. Since most professors grade and submit grades at a glacial pace, there’s nothing you can do but wait.

Finals time is always the most stressful of the semester. The first few weeks of class and midterms are almost as bad, but at those points you can usually still pull your grades up and get your shit together.

Most students of all ages are familiar with the word finals, but some don’t know that it actually stands for:

Fuck

I

Never

Actually

Learned

This

Shit!

Yes, it’s true. The end-of-semester panic always sets in and everyone realizes they have no idea what’s been happening all semester and have tons to catch up on. The thing is, most students DO know what’s going on and are actually ready but they become so panicked their self-confidence as a student hits the floor.All of a sudden projects that you would get to later are suddenly due next week, and we realize that term papers you swore you already did are still in the “brainstorming” stage.

Being prepared is the best defense to finals and the end of the semester. Here’s what I do at the end of every semester, and suggest other students do the same.

Deal with end-of-semester stress (even when it’s already finals week):

1. Make a to-do list of everything that needs to be done and when everything is due

It helps to lay it out all out on one piece of paper, even if it’s a bunch of stuff. Mark the due dates on your calendar, add them to your phone, write them in your planner, or whatever works for you. If nothing works for you, or you don’t know what works do it all. Write it on your forehead, your mirror, your best friend’s face, whatever works!

2. Take a break every two hours

When you study all day and all night, your brain gets exhausted and doesn’t absorb anything anymore. This is why all-nights do not work. You’re tired, hungry, and annoyed and your brain won’t absorb anything if you don’t take breaks. I recommend taking a 5-10 minute break every two hours.

3. Sleep long, and sleep often

Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night. 8 would be better, but sometimes its not possible. Try to remain steady and consistent with your sleep schedule. If you sleep 4 am-10am on Monday and 9pm-3am on Tuesday, your brain will be fried by Wednesday.

4. Take a social-media vacation

Tell your BFFs you are taking a finals-induced social media vacation, and delete the Twitter and Facebook apps off your phone and tablet. If you refuse to do this, cut down on your social media time. If you still refuse to do this, count the number of minutes you waste every day browsing your friends’ latest status updates and dog pictures so you can see what you could have done with your time. It’s not forever, it’s just for a week or two while you prep for finals.

5. Limit your TV, computer, and email-checking time

It’s amazing how much time we spend doing these things daily without realizing it. Even if you only watch one half an hour episode of TV per day and check your email for 5 minutes 5 times a day, that’s an hour you could’ve been being more productive.  

6. Eat like you mean it

While caffeine, donuts, and energy drinks may be your normal diet, take a break from it and get some real food like fruits, vegetables, etc. Remind your body that it can do things other then writing papers and studying by taking a short jog or take Fido for a walk around the block.

7. Don’t drink or take drugs during finals week

Some people, especially in college, drink like fish but if there’s any time you should lay off it it’s during finals week. You need all your brain cells to think, not to mention the negative health benefits that comes with drugs and drinking. Taking adderall to stay up all night to study does not make you cool, it makes you a pathetic idiot who relies on drugs to get anything done.

8. Don’t overstudy

Studying for 8 hours doesn’t mean you are going to ace the test. In fact, most people learn better in short sessions, like 20 minutes a day for a week, then in one long session. Your brain can only handle so much information. Even sponges get so full they can’t take anything else, so why would your brain be any different?

9. Pace yourself by planning your study time and projects

This goes back to #1, where you write out everything you need to do and when it’s due. The next step is making a REASONABLE plan for when to do it all. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you will meet with your group and finish the project and write your 10 page essay on the same day when you know that you have a 3-hour class in the morning and your roommate will kill you if you don’t clean the bathroom by the weekend.

Rememeber to schedule breaks, because these are just as important as studying. If you don’t take breaks you stop absorbing information, and you will be shocked at how a short break can revive you and make the subject even a little bit more interesting. Also schedule anything you need to do, like work. Don’t spend three hours wasting time on a schedule, a simple one will do and you don’t have to (and probably won’t) stick to it entirely.Here’s an example schedule I would use:

Monday

11:30AM to 12:30 PM Make schedule for the week

2-4 PM: Make media law vocab flashcards- include the importance of each case and what its outcome was

4-5 PM, rest, eat, call Mom

5-7 PM Study flashcards, reread study guide and test self

7-7:45 PM Eat dinner, relax before test

8 PM-9 PM Take media law final, ace it!

10. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

If you spend 8 hours studying for your math final, you will lose out on time studying for your chemistry final. You might get a B on the math final but a C on chemistry because you neglected to review all the old material.

Figure how what grade you want in the class and add up all your assignments and grades so far to find your current grade. Do the math (its easier then it sounds) to find out what you need to get on the final (for example, if I get an 80% on the final I get a B in the class. If I get a 70% on the final, I stlll get a B in the class, so I shouldn’t study too hard for it) and decide which class is worth studying for more, if any, and allot your study time accrordingly.

 

Test anxiety can be severe, but try to remember that no matter what happens you know more then you think and you can always re-take the class. This may feel like the end of the world but generally, it’s not, and most people pass their finals and classes with no problems at all. We all have test and finals anxiety, it’ s perfectly normal to be nervous but don’t kill yourself studying because that’s not good for anyone!

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