I know we all fall into the trap of not finishing what we started. After months of endless work, you are most likely unmotivated, exhausted and too bone-weary to run this last stretch to the semester’s finish line. And with summer break lurking in the corner, you are probably eager to free yourself from the confines of your stuffy dorm room and the overwhelming amount of assignments. While you might be fixated on the light at the end of the tunnel, remember that you do not want to trip on these last few steps.
No matter how you started the semester, what matters from this grueling, three-month academic journey is how you choose to finish it. You can either submit to the current summer fever or steel yourself for a couple more weeks to finish this semester with a bang.
I urge you to take some deep breaths, muster up your energy and finish strong this semester. To finish strong means you acknowledge the mental and physical anguish that you endured for the past months; you love yourself enough to want to give yourself the best ending to a long journey, and you can walk away feeling reassured that you tried your best no matter the outcome.
As such, to boost your morale and increase your chances of having a smooth last few weeks, I have compiled a list of advice that could hopefully aid you in preparing for your last round of exams and papers.
Prepare early (which is earlier than you might think)
I know we are all guilty of occasionally procrastinating, especially when overwhelmed with the bevy of comprehensive exams and lengthy essays due in the near future. But the best thing you can do for yourself is to start early. No, this doesn’t mean work a week ahead, but rather, two or three weeks ahead of due dates if possible—especially if you have both finals and longer assignments. If you can write your essays early, it can free up space to effectively prepare for those tedious and grueling exams. So, save yourself the future stress and regret and prepare now.
Create a daily and weekly schedule (and be realistic with yourself)
Often, we fall behind or procrastinate on assignments because we do not set personal goals of when we should complete them, especially when the deadline is far. But with finals approaching, this habit of pushing every assignment to the last minute can snowball into tackling a mammoth amount of work all at once, which we definitely don’t want due to the amount of stress this causes. Thus, it is crucial that you finish some assignments earlier to free up space for other ones. This can be achieved through setting goals and being strict with completing tasks and work each day and throughout the week. Most importantly, be honest with your work pace so you don’t end up beating yourself up for not attaining your goals.
Give yourself time to unwind and treat yourself
I know that preparing for finals and writing all those lengthy papers can be overwhelming and outright exhausting. Therefore, it’s important when starting your assignments early to carve out blocks of free time. You cannot be fully productive without recharging and unwinding from time to time—whether that is going for a run, calling up a friend or reading an immersive book, make sure to give yourself a break periodically.
Once you reach the end, pat yourself on the back (regardless of the outcome)
Once finals end and you have handed in your last physics exam or typed in the last word of your 20-page research paper, you should pat yourself on the back. Regardless of how you did, or whether or not you got a good grade, you should appreciate yourself for pushing through these last few weeks. Furthermore, I wanted to acknowledge that there are times when we may not perform how we like, even if we did everything we possibly could, working day and night. But that does not mean that the hard work was worthless; instead, we learn the honest lesson that not all hard work pays off. In this uncertain world, the amount of work we invest in something is the only factor we can control, not necessarily the outcome. So, don’t berate yourself for not knowing how to do a dubious problem on a calculus exam or not knowing a minor topic on a biology final because we could not have predicted that beforehand.
To sign off, I hope these tips will increase your chances of ending this academic year with deserving triumph. Don’t succumb to your summer fantasies yet, and give yourself the best ending possible so you can finish with a victorious smile.