The Final Countdown
With summer in sight, self-discipline starts to feel really overrated. Here’s how to end on a high note.
By Sophie Hurlock, Xavier University
The weather has finally warmed up, the sun is shining, spring is here and you can think of a million things you’d rather be doing than homework.
Spring semesteritus is real, and with two weeks left in the semester, I’m really feeling the effects, as I’m sure you are too. With summer on the brain, it can seem impossible to focus on studying for exams and writing papers. You may just be tempted to throw in the towel altogether, and trade in an all-nighter of studying for an all-nighter of beer pong and taking shots with your friends.
As difficult as it may be to force yourself to sit down and get started studying, finishing out the year strong is important. Why work so hard throughout the semester, just to throw all that hard work down the drain with a few weeks left in the semester? So, to help you, here is a list of do’s and don’ts for finishing out your semester strong.
Do: Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can be one of the best ways to ensure that you finish out the year strong. Your school mostly likely has their exam schedule posted months in advance, so look at these dates and plan accordingly. Figure out when you plan on studying for what, and be sure to plan out extra time to study for your harder exams or classes that you’re struggling with, so they don’t catch you by surprise later.
Also for those harder classes, be sure to plan on visiting your teachers during their office hours for additional help before the exam. In my experience, teachers are always willing to give extra help to students who want it. It’s also a good idea to check your syllabus a few weeks before exams and see if your teacher is planning on having any last-minute papers or projects due before the exam. Maybe you could even try to get started on those a little early, or plan to work those around your study schedule.
I think every college student in the history of college students is guilty of this one, but procrastinating during finals week could mean the death of your GPA. Although it may feel good in the moment to put off your work to binge-watch that Netflix show, later on when all of your work comes back to bite you in the ass, you’re going to regret putting everything off.
Finals week is supposed to be a busy week meant to push students to the limit. It’s not a time for you to slack off, and yes that may suck, but it’s only for one week. So put your nose to the grindstone, buckle your seatbelt and get your work done sooner rather than later. You’ll thank yourself for it when you’re not up at 3 a.m. trying to finish a paper that’s due at 8 a.m. (I’ve definitely been there before.)
During exams week and even in the weeks before it, the stress that’s put on you can be overwhelming. It’s important to take care of yourself during this time of little sleep and too much caffeine. Exercise can be a great way to do this. Exercise in any form has been shown to reduce stress and raise endorphins, which are the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy. Exercise can also help you to sleep better, and there’s no better way to finish the year strong than by getting a good night’s sleep.
Even just twenty minutes of exercise can have tremendous benefits for your mental well-being. And be honest, who doesn’t have at least twenty extra minutes in their day? If exercise isn’t your thing, you could try meditation, which also has great rewards for your mental health.
Don’t: Fill Your Body with Crap
You know the kind of crap I’m talking about—the fast food, alcohol, caffeine and any other unhealthy substance that you use to get yourself through hell week. As much as you feel like these substances are helping you power through a late night of studying, they’re actually having the opposite effect.
This may come as shocker, but alcohol is linked with poor academic performance. *Gasps* Fast food can make you sluggish and tired, which is not good if you’re trying to focus on a paper or studying for an exam. And caffeine can cause sleeplessness and increased anxiety levels, which is also not good for attempting to rock your finals.
I know, when the stress of finals hits you it’s tempting to grab whatever food has the highest calorie content and then wash it down with an energy drink, but in the end, this is only going to do you more damage than good. Healthy foods and water can help give you the energy you need to power through your study session, so maybe next time try grabbing an apple instead of a donut.
Do: Get Good Sleep
This is a point I cannot stress enough! Sleep is so important when it comes to finishing out the school year strong. As tempting as it may be just to pull an all-nighter in order to cram in some extra studying, staying up through the night can make it harder for you to remember information and function the next day.
Every adult needs at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. And although this may seem impossible during exams week, maybe try breaking it up into small naps that can help to recharge the brain. You’ll thank yourself later.
Don’t: Get Too Excited for Summer
Yes, summer break may be only a few weeks away, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that you’re still in school at the moment. I understand that with the weather warming up, what’s on your mind is leaving school, going home and not having to deal with homework for another three months. But, before you can do any of that, you must survive finals week. And, like I said in the beginning of the article, why throw away all of the hard work you did in the beginning of the semester just because you don’t feel like pushing yourself at the end?
Think of it this way: Finals week is one week—one week and then you’re free for the next few months—so why not push yourself at least for this one week? And ask yourself this: Can you really enjoy your summer knowing that you didn’t push yourself as hard as you could have? I didn’t think so.