finals

How to Stay Sane During Finals

Finals week is coming faster than we could say “OMG, I need to get on top of things.” Even the most seasoned finals veteran struggles with managing time and energy while trying to get things done as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, finals are difficult and very stressful. There really isn’t an easy way out. However, there are some great tactics for relieving stress and staying sane during finals week. After almost 8 finals weeks, here’s what I’ve learned:

stay sane during finals

Be Healthy

It’s so easy to neglect our health while we’re cramming for exams and putting together assignments. Unfortunately, if our health is bad, it’s likely our performance is also going to be bad. Make sure to eat healthy meals with foods high in vitamins and minerals and low in processed ingredients. Not only will it keep your body running smoothly, but it’ll also help you feel more awake and focused. Some foods thought to boost energy include beans, citrus, and leafy greens. Additionally, make sure to fit in some cardio a few days each week. Exercise helps to increase endorphins, making you feel more positive and focused. On top of everything, hydration is key. Drinking adequate amounts of water not only helps the body function, but it also helps to regulate attention and energy.

stay sane during finals

Have Fun

College students often have the tendency to feel if they are doing something enjoyable, then they’re doing something wrong. This mindset is not only detrimental to mental health, but it can also negatively affect your work. Overworking yourself causes fatigue and lack of concentration, which can actually lead to lower grades. Therefore, one of the most important ways to stay sane during finals is to have fun. This doesn’t mean a wild night out with the pals, but taking an hour to get dinner with friends or to see a show can make a huge difference!

stay sane during finals

Change up the Space

Another great way to stay sane during finals is to make sure that you’re not in the same space for too long. Even if you have the best seat at the library, staying in the same spot for too long can make things even more boring than they already are. By changing up your environment ever so often, you’re also shifting the way your mind absorbs information because of changes in light, posture, etc.

stay sane during finals

Meditate

Mindful meditation is an excellent way to help deal with stress, increase attention, and boost cognition. If you’re beginning to feel stressed out, take some time alone to sit, or even walk, and relax your mind. Concentrate on your situation and sort out everything you need to do. Identify why you need to do it, and then how you’re going to do it. Remind yourself although finals are challenging, you’re capable of performing at your best and that studying will ultimately be rewarding. Finals aren’t fun, but attending college is a privilege.

stay sane during finals

Stay Organized

If you’re anything like me, you find it extremely difficult to stay organized. During stressful times, my lack of organization causes me even more stress in addition to what I’m already enduring. Before finals begin, it’s a great idea to get your life together. If you’re inclined to use your computer, start a spreadsheet with all of the assignments you need to finish and all of the exams you need to study for. Make columns for dates,  study intensity, and goals. If you prefer being able to physically write things down, use a planner. Winging finals is always a bad idea.

Finals are going to be stressful. However, it’s always important to put your mental and physical health first. Keep a good head on your shoulders. Take care of yourself. Make efforts to stay organized and confident, then the rest will come along smoothly. Good luck getting ready for finals, everyone!

How to Create a Schedule for Success

create a schedule to-do

It’s almost the end of the semester which only means one thing: deadlines! With teachers adding last minute work, semester-long projects approaching their due date, and finals right around the corner, these last few weeks of school can be some of the hardest of the semester. Keeping up with work while staying sane is quite the challenge, but it can be done. The best way to manage these last few weeks is by creating a schedule. Here is a simple guide on how to create a schedule:

1. Make Your Schedule Template

A simple way to do this is by using Excel or another spreadsheet program. Label columns with the dates of the remaining school days and label rows in hourly increments.

2. Block Out Time Slots

It is extremely important to go to class during these last few weeks so make sure you put those into your calendar first. You will also add things like club meetings and appointments that you absolutely have to be at. You should make these events a bold color like red on your schedule so you know they are important and that time isn’t available for other activities.

3.  Add Optional Events

Add events that you want to go to but don’t have to. Things like parties, sporting events, and concerts are more enjoyable than school work, but not as important. If you are running out of time these events are the ones that can be missed for the sake of your grade. Make these events a different color on your schedule than mandatory events so you can tell them apart.

4. Add School Assignments/Projects/Tests

The fourth step will take the most time, but it is also the most important. Go through all of your syllabuses for all of your classes and make a list of the assignments, projects, and tests that you will have for the remainder of the semester. Next, estimate how long each task will take and block out the allotted amount of time on your schedule. Be realistic when estimating task times. You are not going to complete that 20 page report in 30 minutes. Don’t forget to set aside time to study for finals!

5. Add Necessary Personal Tasks

Finally, add time for necessary tasks such as sleeping, eating, and showering. It may seem like overkill to schedule sleeping time, but knowing that you have plenty of time to finish your work and still get a full nights sleep will reduce stress and allow you to sleep without worrying that you are behind. Any time that is not blocked out by these five steps is free time for you to enjoy.

Keeping up with the end-of-semester rush is a daunting task, but it can be accomplished. Making and sticking to a schedule will help you complete your work while still being able to enjoy your last few weeks. Finish strong and good luck! Have a good end-of semester survival tip? Leave it in the comment section below!

Why December Shouldn’t Be Stressful

December student

It’s that time of year again where things begin to get hectic. If you’re a college student, December means assignments and finals are creeping up on us and exhaustion is setting in. The end of the semester is officially coming to a close. As we begin to feel stressed out and anxious, we also tend to forget about the amazing things that surround us. If you’re going through a tough time, and I’m sure many of us are, then please hear me out.

Take Time to Breathe

First off, I’d like to point out that stress, like anything, is only okay in moderation. Secondly, stress isn’t something to be proud of. Staying up all night, piling on extra assignments last minute and working until misery isn’t acceptable. We live in a world where overworking ourselves is praiseworthy. The more work, the better. Right? Wrong. It’s appreciable that you’re working hard, but it’s important to know that our society’s definition of hard work isn’t actually normal. As a student, you shouldn’t feel inadequate if you’re not pushing yourself over the edge.

Luckily, these busy and haphazardly spent days rushing between class, the library and back home for food and sleep intersect with the most wonderful time of year: the holidays! As you continue to prepare for the end of the semester (remember, don’t push yourself too hard), make sure to take in some of the joy and cheer that will be accumulating on every corner. Although it’s already December and most of the leaves have changed and perhaps fallen, the beauty of the transition from fall to winter doesn’t cease to be amazing.

Explore the Outdoors

Take some time this year to go outside and not just a five minute walk to a new building. Regardless of the cold, sweaters and gloves were invented for a reason. You should go outdoors! Research suggests that spending extra hours in the outdoors can lead to health benefits. For example, the sun is a great source of vitamin D. but remember sunscreen! Additionally, nature and the outdoors is thought to lead to an elevated mood and decreased stress levels. If your school is in nowhere land, take this opportunity to find the area with the post picturesque sunset; if you’re studying in a city, explore the city parks! Make sure to take photos. Oftentimes cold weather leads to the loveliest photos. 

Make Time for Family and Friends

You should take time to appreciate family and friends in December. With having just did this at Thanksgiving and the subsequent holidays coming shortly after, we can become even more stressed. However, the holidays aren’t meant to be stressful. Sure, cooking, cleaning, and having to embarrassingly describe to your relatives that you ‘just don’t quite know yet’ what you’re doing with your live isn’t quite fun, but the moments around that deserve to be cherished. So go ahead and plan a Friendsgiving, wear your matching pajamas with your siblings and escape your older relatives with your cousins. It’s worth it!

Enjoy Being a Student

Lastly, these last few years of college are really the only moments left before we’re catapulted into the real world. Embrace your youth as you experience these times while still being a student. Don’t let classes and assignments get in the way of feeling that holiday cheer that comes every year at this time. Drink lots of hot chocolate, take in the crisp fall air and over wear your favorite sweater. Regardless of how stressful we’re feeling, I can guarantee that these tough times will feel way better.

I hope that these suggestions help you have a successful and enjoyable December and end of fall semester. Have any other tips that have helped you? Leave them in the comment section below!

Study Tips for Exam Week

As you prepare for final exams, you need to have a strategy to make it through the week. These studying tips will help you organize your time and succeed.

Get Enough Sleep

exam week take a nap
First things first, get enough sleep! When studying for exam week it is best to study in advance instead of cramming the night before. Try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. You need enough sleep to recall information and think through the questions. Once you’ve finished studying for the night try to relax so that you can get to sleep more easily.

Take Breaks

exam week take a break
While you are studying, it is best to take a break every few hours. You can only concentrate for so long and you need to take breaks to retain information. After so many hours of studying, take 30-60 minutes to do something mindless that you enjoy.  Watch an episode of your latest Netflix addiction or scroll through your social media news feed and forget about the stress for a while.

Type Your Notes

exam week type your notes

Type out your notes from class and combine the information with corresponding facts from the textbooks. This way you have a comprehensive overview of the material to review. If you already type your notes in class add information from the textbook to make sure that you will remember all of the information you need to succeed. If you do this throughout the semester you will have a comprehensive study guide for the semester.

Study in Groups

exam week study groups

Studying in groups is helpful when comparing and contrasting notes, especially if you have a difficult professor. Sharing study tips with each other is also helpful. Some people study better alone but most people benefit from studying as a group. In a group you can ask and answer questions to prepare for the exam and discuss the information that you think is the most important. There should be places for you to study in groups at the library and you can usually reserve a study room.

Make Flashcards

exam week flashcards
Making flashcards is a great way to review for your exams. You can use the term on one side to either write out the definition or you can use the definition on one side to review the term or fact. It is best to make flash cards throughout the semester and keep them in a file to review at the end of the semester. The information can seem less overwhelming when it’s broken up into individual questions you are tackling one at a time.

Drink Coffee

exam week drink coffee
Drinking coffee will help you be more alert and be able to think more clearly. If your classes are in the morning and you have been studying late, make sure to drink coffee to wake up. If you have night classes, it is still a good idea to drink coffee before a night exam to avoid getting tired. Make sure you drink a glass of water to each cup of coffee you have to avoid dehydration.

Review the Chapters

exam week Review the Chapters

If you have time, re-read the chapters your exams are covering. If not, scan the chapters and find the information that you think is most important and facts that you have covered in your notes and the text. Studying the textbook is the best way to succeed in most classes. Most of the test will come from the reading because the professors want to make sure that you did the required reading that they assigned and paid attention to their lectures on the textbook in class.

Listen to Music

exam week listen to music

Listening to a playlist while you study for exams can help you relax. Most students get nervous before exams, especially if this is your first semester or year. You can go to youtube and listen to music for exam study concentration or to cool down between study sessions.

Bring Snacks

studying tips bring snacksYou should bring a water bottle or drink and a snack to class if you are taking a long exam and the professor allows you to do so. Drinking too much caffeine can make you shakey. Make sure to stay hydrated and eat every so many hours to stay steady.

Follow these studying tips to the best of your ability and you will have success on exam week. Once you have finished exams, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment! Go out with friends or go holiday shopping. Good luck! Have any other tips? Share with us in the comments below!

5 Tips to Get You Through College Finals

college finals

1. Find a Study Group

Finding a study group is especially important if you have not been paying attention in class.  I suggest you find a group of people who will help you review and understand an entire semester’s worth of information. Combining notes and study strategies can be very effective. If you don’t already make friends in class, you should start early. The more diverse your study group, the better!

2. Create a Google Doc

Your class will LOVE you if you give out a Google Doc or other shared drive study guide to help your whole class receive a good grade on the final. You can also sell it to a group for a small fee. Might as well get paid for your hard work!Brownie points (and extra studying) if you complete the whole study guide yourself and then share it.

3. Take a Movie Break

Make plans during finals week, on a lighter day (or after a heavy day) of finals to watch a movie with a friend. A movie break is a good way to recharge and make sure you are getting some relaxation during finals week! Bonus if you pick a comedy. Laughing is free medicine!

4. Complete Your Notes

Before finals week, you should go through your notes and see if there are any lectures that you have missed and find a classmate who did show up.  TIP: Try incentivizing them by offering to buy them a coffee if they will meet up and let you copy the missed notes.

5. Ask About The Format

Knowing what the final will look like (especially if you haven’t had an exam in the class) will help shape how you study for each exam. This information can also provide vital information about what to and not to study for the exam. Ask your professor. Some professors will give you more information than others but you won’t know until you ask!

Good luck with your studies!