Maybe it’s just me but as a college student, the middle of the semester sucks. You’re long past the Christmas cheer that you held onto ever so tightly until about February and you are too far away from the summer holidays to feel the freedom that comes with them.
Perhaps it really is just me because I also know the summer months this year don’t bring with them the laziness I have come to know and love, instead they bring the grey cloud that is dissertation season.
However, if you too feel the mid semester blues dragging you down and I’m not alone in my madness, here are some tips to keep you going, so you can pass those pesky exams and jet off on your J1 adventure, safe in the knowledge you wont have to pry yourself away from the end of summer Vegas roadtrip to return for repeats in August:
Create a Calendar
Seems like an obvious one but believe me this is definitely a case of needing to ‘practice what you preach’ and I could really do with a solid calendar in my life. Source a calendar and fill it with anything and everything that you need to get done between now and the end of exams; assignments, projects, meetings, exam dates. Space out your project work into manageable pieces and create your own deadlines ahead of the actual deadline so you don’t end up in a last minute panic the night before with 2,000 words still left to type and not enough caffeine in the house to sustain your inevitable all-nighter. BUT….. be realistic. Don’t plan to read 200 pages of your physics book in one sitting, it ain’t gonna happen. So space out your study just enough that you won’t be tempted by ‘just one more episode of Game of Thrones‘ which leads to 4 hours of said programme and a days study gone out the window.
As I said it would be great if I could take my own advice but alas, I’m stubborn and stuck in my ways so this is basically a list of things to do if you don’t want to end up like me; a stressed out, sleep deprived mess of a human.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. I’m not going to tell you to go to all classes and take lengthy, detailed notes but I will say that when you know you have an essay coming up just start some research or reading on the topic about 10 days in advance. Every single time I’m the night before a deadline, sitting at the desk, tearing my hair out I think ‘hmmm if I actually started research into this earlier I might actually have produced a half decent assignment’. The same can be done for end of year exams; start doing some really light reading of notes or even just get all your notes and readings that are required in order so you aren’t scrambling to download 12 weeks worth of slides from six different modules. Learn from my mistakes people, start the prep early. You will thank yourself (and me of course) when you are skipping out with an ‘A’ grade.
Get a life!
Now, not in the usual hurtful meaning, more the spirit lifting – ‘you can repeat the exams but you can’t repeat the session‘. Well, not quite to this extent either cause I for one have had more than enough of college by now thank you very much. What I’m getting at is that you can’t expect to get out of your mid semester slump and succeed in your college life if you have nothing to look forward to except a half an hour break three times a day to feed and water yourself. Something as simple as a 30 minute walk just to clear your head or a yoga class to relax you can work a treat and get you refocused on the task at hand. Getting yourself worked up will not do you or your grades any favours so take a break and enjoy yourself. Socialise, go out with friends, get tipsy and make mistakes on Coppers‘ dancefloor the odd weekend and regret it the next day – it’s necessary to stay sane!
Study, study, oh look a butterfly
If like me you get distracted by a piece of dust then the Pomodoro Technique might be right up your alley. The ‘tomato timer’ as it is affectionately known is a time management technique where the student sets the timer and studies for 25 minute intervals without any distractions, (I’m looking at you DailyMail, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and anything except college work), followed by a short break. 25 minutes is very realistic and doable, even for the queen of procrastination (me). Try it and see if it improves your ability to get work done.
‘What About ME?’
This kind of ties in with getting a life but it’s really important that you don’t forget about your friends. At the risk of sounding like a total sap, friends are important for staying in a good frame of mind. all of your group of friends are at different stages in their lives now, some are working, some still studying and some have moved to the other side of the world! It can be hard to find a time and date that suits to meet your friends but make time. Too many times I have put off a catch up over coffee with a pal because I’m too busy but the next thing you know a month has gone by and the person you saw three times a week now gets your attention for 30 minutes and no more when you feel you can squeeze them into your busy schedule. Don’t get to this stage. We are all busy but when you finally do meet that bestie for brunch or Skype that pal in New Zealand you feel so much better and ready to take on that college work again. Sometimes all you need is a good gossip to get you back on track.
The above tips aren’t scientific in nature and aren’t coming from some academic genius and more than likely they are nothing you haven’t read or heard before but sometimes you just need that reminder for the penny to finally drop and for you to take the right action, get off your butt and get out of that mid semester slump.