As a freshman in college, I’m only beginning to understand the true pressure and stress that comes with the ending of a semester (finals). College is all fun and games until you remember why you’re actually at college: to learn, to get an education, to broaden your knowledge, to get a degree that you’ll most likely use in your future job. In college, no one’s holding your hand and telling you to study or get your work done. No one’s giving you study guides or easy way outs. The weight that lands on the shoulders of college students is quite a heavy one, but there are a few ways to stay motivated and get through the last few assignments, tests, projects and weeks of school.
1. Stay on top of things.
This is difficult because there are so many things to keep track of. Making a to-do list helps you keep track of the tasks and assignments that you need to accomplish. If you don’t already have one, get a planner and schedule out what you're going to do and when.
2. Make time for some R&R.
With so many things to do, you may feel like you have no time for a break, but it’s entirely necessary to allow yourself a break here and there. Your brain needs rest. Your body needs rest. Take a walk, stretch, listen to some music -- enjoy yourself for a little bit, then get back to work. Find a good balance between work and relaxation.
3. Start earlier than you think you have to.
As a horrible procrastinator and eternally late person, the word “early” is hardly in my vocabulary, but starting assignments/studying/projects earlier can save you from the misery and added stress of cramming later.
4. Find an outlet for your stress.
Whether this means getting some exercise, doing yoga, writing, petting a dog, coloring or whatever it is that helps you wind down, it’ll be necessary for your mental wellbeing during these last few weeks. Don’t let the stress build up and burst from the inside of you, find an activity that you can expel negative energy on.
5. Don’t sacrifice your health.
It’s so easy to skip out on sleep, exercise and healthy food during this stressful period of time, but don’t. You are what you eat. Make sure you’re not loading up on unhealthy comfort foods, which will have a negative impact on your concentration and memory. Sleep is so necessary for your brain to function well on a day-to-day basis. Lack of sleep leads to poor quality studying and less information retention . Exercise helps you keep focused, maintains your energy, and releases endorphins which make you feel better.
6. Find a good study place.
The environment you’re in can affect how well you study or get work done, so figure out what works best for you. Do you prefer bright or dim lighting? Noise, silence or somewhere in between? Music or no music? With people or alone? In your room or at a public place? Everyone’s unique and works better in different kinds of environments, find the best spot for you to study or work.
7. It’s OK to breakdown.
Is it really possible to get through finals without a breakdown? I’m not sure. If you’re not one to crack under the pressure of finals, that’s great. I, however, do. The stress can be overwhelming and breaking down happens. It’s OK. Cry it out, listen to some sad songs, eat some ice cream, squeeze a stress ball, punch a pillow, call your mom. Do whatever you need to do, but just remember that it’s only a few rough weeks, long assignments and hard tests. You do them, and then, guess what? It’s over. Summer’s here and we can wave goodbye to hours spent in the library and the hand cramps from taking notes and typing papers.
Best of luck to everyone in the midst of finals, you got this.