We’ve all been there. It’s Friday night on any given week of college. You’ve somehow survived Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on Starbucks DoubleShot Espresso and three hours of sleep. You’ve napped (and probably drooled) in public. You’ve practically claimed the library as your place of residence. EVERYTHING was due on the same day. You had work til 10:00 pm and class at 8:00 am, how else were you supposed to manage? Thank God it’s Friday, am I right? Wrong. You’re out with your friends enjoying pizza, laughing about your week-long struggle and reveling in the weekend when suddenly the word “paper” enters the conversation and jogs your memory. The assignment you submitted on Wednesday was a rough draft. The final draft, worth 150 points, is due in two hours. So you sprint to your apartment, pound on your keyboard and press the “turn in” button at the VERY. LAST. SECOND. The Wi-Fi is spotty, your laptop freezes, you hit the refresh button and the portal reads “LATE”. Does the professor allow late work? You don’t know, you lost your syllabus. What now? First, you pray this isn’t the armageddon. Then, you tell your tired brain these eleven things.
1. Some professors do indeed accept late assignments.
Though rare at the collegiate level, some professors will graciously accept assignments that are past-due. If you’re one who submits work on time, on the regular, they likely recognize your ethic and potential. This being said, they’ll expect to see your best effort and may choose to pardon you, with only a slight reduction in score.
2. NOTHING except the end of the world, is the end of the world.
You hear it all the time. Unless you’re above the age of 25, your brain is not completely developed. Therefore, your ability to prioritize and process challenges is dramatically lessened. Whatever your concern, especially regarding school-work, give it half an hour. In just thirty minutes time, your brain relaxes, as does the gravity of the situation. Take some deep breaths, try not to freak out, and consider the following reminders.
3. There are things you can do and things you can't.
Advocating for yourself; it’s one of the most valuable skills you learn in college. Everything from bill-pay to job interviews and email correspondence is made easier when you know how to express yourself in a collected and professional manner. The same can be said for approaching professors. Whether or not you are experiencing an extenuating circumstance, explain your situation with pure honesty. Excuses may not get you far, but the simple expression of the challenges you are facing might inspire an exception on the professor’s end. Once you’ve taken these measures, accept that you can only wait for an email response and to understand the possible ramifications of your relatable error. In other words, accept that your best choice at present is to finally get some sleep.
4. Everything appears worse when you're tired.
Remember when we said that nothing except the end of the world, is the end of the world? It's difficult to come to this realization when you only have two hours of sleep under your belt. Statistically, young adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at an optimal level. While many can operate after 6 hours, anything under 5 hours is sure to threaten your mental and physical health. Beyond the obvious irritability, sleep deprivation of any scale prevents the development of muscle mass, weakens your immune system, increases the probability of micro-sleep induced car accidents, hallucinations, depression and death (by 15%). It brings new meaning to the phrase "don't cry over spilt milk", which yes, I actually did do following my first all-nighter. Yes, you're a college student, but you also don't have superhuman abilities to resist sleep. Sadly, not even espresso can do that, so go get some z's please.
5. You have probably experienced worse.
Repeat after me: I have seen worse. Remember that time you really messed up? A certain event just came into your mind didn't it? But you're still here at college. You made it out alive and it wasn't the end of the world. You probably wish you could travel back in time to tell your past self the outcome: you're going to be ok. Apply the same notion now. No matter the outcome of your mistake, the sun is sure to come out tomorrow and you will be ok.
6. Timing is everything.
Consider the prominence of this assignment in relation to timing. Your work in the early semester will cause dramatic effects upon your grade, but this percentage will change drastically as the professor scores more of the homework. If the overall class dynamic indicates that everyone could benefit from some extra credit mid-semester, opportunities for such may present themselves. The same can be said for the end of the year, as professors understand the importance of maintaining a quality GPA. This in turn will be a positive reflection of their teaching. Therefore, everybody wins. One big happy family.
7. You have resources.
Believe it or not, you are not alone in your newfound independence. There are countless staff members campus-wide who would love to assist you. Need someone to proof-read the rough draft of a critical paper? Questioning how to manage your incomprehensible amounts of homework? Make an appointment at the writing center and pick up as many helpful brochures as possible. Perhaps most importantly, maintain a commitment to meeting with your advisor on the regular. Though all of these mentors have experienced identical circumstances, academic advisors will take the time to know you and provide their most adequate feedback. Quite truly, you don't have to feel frustrated and alone, you just need to know who can help.
8. You have options.
Though typically reserved for difficult circumstances, I would like to reinforce myself once more when I say that the choice to withdraw from a class is not the end of the world. In the instances where failing a class becomes a true possibility, we enter a battle of priorities. Given the two options, would we prefer measurable damage to our GPA or a W upon our transcript? In regards to gravity, a couple W's are not devastating in the way that a low GPA might be. Be willing to consider all available options after discussion with your academic advisor, and know that the armageddon will not rise from what you decide.
9. Your grades in college will bear little resemblance to those in high school.
True fact of the day: only 65.9 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 attend university, in comparison to 66.2 percent in 2014 and 70.1 percent in 2009. Coincidence? I think not. Here's what I know. It is not our business why some choose to undertake post-secondary education while others choose to forego it. However, our generation faces circumstances more pressing than those before us. With every passing year, curriculum grows more rigorous and students sink further into debt. It is these same concerns that were less prominent in high school. Why? Because college is far more than a grueling academic challenge...it's also a preparatory course in the ways of life. With so much to manage, the straight A's of the past will likely become the B's of the present, and we must all cut ourselves a little bit of slack.
10. It happens to the best of us.
Let me tell you a little secret. Behind every name on the dean's list and every student walking calmly to class, is someone who's only human and probably scared. Young adulthood is a time of both absolute terror and exhilarating possibility. We cannot predict our future, we question our decisions, and we feel incredibly blessed when our extreme work ethic finally pays off. Not many like to admit it, but we're all at the fork in the road and simply choosing which direction to take. News flash: it's possible to be a successful hot mess, and it's time we realize that we're all in this together ;)
11. There is nothing a hot shower can't fix.
A wise soul once told me all I needed to know about temporarily feeling better. She said: "There is nothing a hot shower and some hot cocoa can't fix" (thanks Karen ❤️). You're probably wondering how this is the case when life is so frequently filled with chaos and frustration. Quite simply, it is a warm and comfortable place to be alone and collect your many thoughts. Seeing as though the water might cause some damage to your laptop and textbooks, you won't be able to bring your troubles with you. Do not be the person that laminates their study guide so as to study while shampooing. This is the life-pause you've waited for all day. Let the water run down your back and just try to relax. Regarding the hot cocoa, it has this way of warming your heart like none other. Not only is the occasional chocolate good for your health, it heats you up when you're cold from lack of sleep. Perhaps the taste brings us back to the simpler times of our childhood. Perhaps a cocoa a day keeps the stress at bay.