This is going to be a little bit weird for me to write about because, well, I am only a freshman. You might be thinking: why would I take advice from her? What does she know? Well, I may not have all of the answers that you need, but I will do my best to make sure that you are fully prepared for the weeks to come.
So, here it goes: how to get through midterms without having emotional breakdowns, thinking about dropping out, finding ways to avoid doing work, and completely falling off the deep end. Well, let me clue you in to one thing. A few of these things, if not all of them, are going to happen. Now, you definitely don’t want to completely lose control, but, sometimes, we are better off if we do. Here’s an example. Last week I had a biology midterm. Let me tell you, biology is not my thing. I sit through that class trying to take in everything my professor is saying, and then, when I’m in the library studying, I go insane trying to figure things out. For one, I haven’t taken bio since my freshman year of high school. To add on to that, it was a “regular” class, AND my teacher was a substitute. So, to give you a summary, I didn’t learn anything. Now I’m in a class of students who, for the most part, took AP biology. Their textbooks aren’t even dusted over yet from the previous year, and I’m over here trying to piece together concepts from my “intro to high school” course. How unfair is that? You can’t blame me for having an emotional breakdown. I had been studying the entire time I was on fall break, and, when I got back, I felt like I still needed to be in the library 24/7. I had to learn photosynthesis, cellular respiration, facilitated diffusion, all of these processes that I really didn’t care too much about. It may be easy for some people, but this was my first time actually learning it. I tried my best to get through it, but all of the formulas were getting mixed up in my head, and I couldn’t concentrate. I ended up crying the entire day before. I kid you not, tears were pouring out for almost the entire day, and they wouldn’t stop. Sitting in chemistry class, I felt the salt water from behind my eyes trying to push its way through, but I didn’t let it happen. My mind was blocked. My thoughts were clouded. I didn’t know anything about biology, and it made me absolutely crazy. I contemplated taking a semester off, changing my career path, dropping out, and much more. The next morning, I brought my defeated self to take the biology exam.
Why am I boring you with my life story that you probably don’t care about? Well, it’s a long transition into the main part which is giving my advice from personal experience. The first thing I’m going to tell you is that what you do with your life is completely your choice. How you go through life is your choice. The way in which you treat yourself is your choice.
You have a choice to learn from your failures, or to go down with them. I thought my path was going to lead to failure, but I learned a lot from my experience. Failure is what defines us. Without failure, we don’t learn anything. Failure is there to build us up, not break us down. We need to be uncomfortable at some point in our lives to truly realize our full potential. Our lives begin at the end of our comfort zone.
So, the dreaded midterm. We all have to go through it, and you need to make a conscious choice to do well. In order to do well, you need to think some things through. First, you need to keep your mental health in check. If you are constantly stressing and crying over something that hasn’t even happened yet, then you are already on the road going downhill. Stress isn’t a bad thing. Stress isn’t the enemy; it is our friend. It may cause many emotional breakdowns, but, ultimately, it is what makes us stronger. We cannot control how we perform on a test, but we can control how we prepare for it. Studying about a week or two weeks in advance is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Start with a study guide. Write down all of the topics you need to know, and see what you have mastered already. Go back to the problems that you missed, and then do them again. However, don’t do this all at once. When we do this, we cause too much stress in our lives, making us overwhelmed. Instead, do a little bit each day so that you can slowly pick up on the information that you have to spit right back out.
Another necessary component: breaks. If you are in the library all day gluing your eyes to the textbook, then you are going to go absolutely insane. No wonder your stress levels are through the roof; you are slowly ruining yourself. I’m not saying you have to take a full shopping trip to relieve stress, but even a five or ten-minute break will help. Go outside. Take a walk. Get lunch with your friends. Have a dance party in your room. You can do anything you want, but it is something that you have to do.
My final piece of advice is to take it day by day. I know I briefly mentioned this when talking about keeping up with your mental health, but I want to reiterate it again. Not just for midterms, but in general, too. Your life is going to be full of exciting events and plans. However, if we only focus on key events in our lives, we will never truly achieve happiness. Getting through midterms is something that a lot of people want to achieve, but, if we all think like that, are we really going to succeed? College is one of the most important times in our lives, so to just try and “get by” isn’t the best option. College is a time to thrive and be great. Don’t look at your life and think, I need to get through this week. That is not helping anyone. Appreciating everything you have each day, and using that day to its full potential, will get you where you want to be. By the time you realize that, you will be done with your midterms.