You haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days. Your hair looks like it hasn’t been brushed in a month, and you haven’t eaten a decent meal since Thanksgiving weekend.
If this sounds like you, you’re probably a student in the midst of midterm and paper season. As an English major, I definitely know the struggle. While I’m 100% guilty of doing the complete opposite of these tips, I have learned over the past three years what works and what doesn’t when it comes to staying alive during these couple of months.
After much trial and error, mental breakdowns and conversations with friends, I’ve gathered some of the best tips that I can find, and I’d like to share them with you in hopes of making sure your midterm season goes as smoothly as possible.
Everybody knows that organization is key to succeeding in whatever you do in life. At times, it’s easier said than done, but there are a few little things you can do to ensure that you don’t have a panic attack when you suddenly realize you have four midterms and 3 papers due all in one week.
Take syllabus week, for example. It may seem like a joke, but you actually get some valuable information during the first week of school. As soon as you figure out your due dates for the semester; whether it be assignments, midterms or papers, write them down! It doesn’t matter how you go about doing this: one easy option is taking a piece of paper and writing the dates down, then taping the sheet to your bedroom wall.
As long as you put the list somewhere that you’ll see it everyday, you’ll be way less likely to forget about any major assignments. Personally, I like to use an agenda, that way I can keep track of things and write myself little reminders when things are coming up.
If you’re anything like me, the only way you’ll survive this trying time is with the help of a little friend called caffeine. While getting 8 hours of sleep and plenty of rest during the day would be ideal, it just isn’t always practical. If you aren’t an avid coffee or tea drinker, there are plenty of other ways you can get your caffeine intake in order to achieve optimal levels of concentration. One option, which may be controversial, is caffeine pills. You can buy these at any grocery store, and they’re always a quick fix for those days when you’re feeling like you could use the extra boost of energy.
Another important factor in maintaining complete concentration is finding a study spot that works for you. For example, I love studying on my bed, but 10 minutes into my psych textbook, all I can think about is curling up to watch a 30-minute episode of The Office, and then one episode turns into ten, and suddenly it’s 2 AM and I’ve gotten absolutely nothing done. I’ve found that in order to avoid this, what works for me is studying on solid ground – a desk preferably, but a table works just as well. There are lots of spaces on campus to be utilized – the PSC pods, the Library, the Wellspring, the Coady, etc.
If you’re not into studying on campus or there don’t seem to be many places available, there are plenty of options off campus too. The public library downtown usually isn’t too hectic, and you can always study in coffee shops such as Tall & Small or even Tim Hortons.
Getting caught up in the panic of midterm and paper season can be super easy, and stress can build up so fast that you don’t even realize how much it’s affecting you. This is why it’s very important to find a way to relieve stress and make relaxation a priority. If this means scheduling in 10 minutes a day for something fun and silly, do it. Whether this means going out with your friends, or spending time by yourself, do it.
Nobody wants to have a midseason breakdown, and I can guarantee that it will not help in the long run. After all, STFX students are known for being able to balance academics and fun! So keep in mind, you might not remember the countless nights spent at the Library, but you’re sure to remember all of the hours spent at the pub. Always make sure to make time for yourself and to let loose.