Managing the Final Weeks of a Semester

By: Cassie Stolz

The previous weeks of studying either remotely, in person, or both have engulfed students. With many uncertainties along the duration of this semester, one notion students can always count on are final exams and projects. They’ve been daunting since day one of classes and now they are here. From my perspective as a senior, I have evolved from an unorganized and undisciplined student to a member of several honorary organizations and a leader in and outside of the classroom. Within the span of my academic career, I’ve found a few ways to make sure the end of the semester doesn’t hit like a mac truck down the interstate.

First, the best way to prepare for finals is to have been preparing the entire semester. This can be an off-putting suggestion if you’ve been getting by doing the bare minimum. For students not putting forth the effort, the question I have for you is why? Put in the work. Sometimes school is very grueling for even the best of students. If college were easy then everyone would have a degree. Be thankful you’re given the opportunity to receive an education and make the most out of it. The four years of an undergrad are vital to future endeavors. College is not the most important part of life, but it brings the most important people, professional connections, and opportunities.

Time is of the essence. Devote most of your final stretch to the reading that counts. Ditch the reading that’s only for general background, additional detail, or mere enjoyment. Of all the recommended readings that are posted on Moodle, now is not a good time to find those interesting. Sorry professors, but if they aren’t on the exams, we will read them over break. By now, you should know whether the

readings for a class is productive work or filling time. However, reading the book is a very good use of time. The most efficient way I have found is to create an outline while re-reading each chapter. Normally this takes a few extra minutes to create but will save much more time during the late-night studies.

Look for the theme of the class. Every course has a “plot” or direction of argument. From lectures, quizzes, and exams, there’s always a theme that the professor is looking for to home in on. If you haven’t already figured it out, now is a good time to search for it. The better you are at figuring out the plot, the better you’ll be able to take notes, review the material, and study for the tests.

Get different perspectives from peers. Hopefully classmates are willing to form a study group with you. Talking through the material will not only help you to internalize it better. You might get new insights that will help you with your test or paper. Discussion-based learning is very beneficial and can help work through any unclear ideas about the class.

Manage the stress. The last month of the semester is always rough, regardless of how well you know the material. So, no matter how pressed you are for time, make time for meditation, yoga, exercise, or whatever it is you do to minimize stress. If you’re losing grip on your mental health, check out the colleges counseling services. Don’t forget to check up with your peers too. An ICM of an uplifting note, a phone call, or a funny meme slipped under their door might help- anything to bring those around a smile to help uplift there day.

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