Finals, etc.

CONGRATULATIONS on vanquishing the go-to-class portion of your first half of college. You’re nearly 50% done with your degree…

…but you gotta CRUSH your finals.

As we close out a phenomenal season on The Year After, some quick tips for roaring through the next two weeks:

#1 – Be selfish. No one can give you back time. Be very selective of who you give it away to, if you give it away at all.

#2 – Determine your bedtime, wake-up time, meal times, study intervals (how long can you review material before requiring a mental wellness break), writing intervals, length of your wellness breaks, and personal time schedule. This a MUST. Routine is the key to productivity and high output during this final stretch.

To quote a mentor of mine:

Steps for strategic study breaking… 1) If you haven’t studied, you cannot take a break. 2) If your break is longer than your studying, you’re not doing either correctly.

#3 – Location. Location. Location. Where on campus do you get into your zone? What works for your friend may not suit you at all. Give your self actual locations to report to – just like going to class. And stick to it.

Do not be fooled – the spaces you physically occupy matter tremendously.

#4 – All studying must have OBJECTIVES and OUTCOMES. It’s not enough to sit down with books and rock out to legally downloaded music. OUTLINE your studying. What knowledge areas must be covered during your 90–minute interval? How will you assess your comprehension/retention? Each study interval/session must advance your preparation.  Do this for all of your final exam courses.  An advantage of a document like this is that you can readily pick up where you left off after a break. Treat it as a “bookmark” for your studying.

#5 – With a complete outline, you can also more efficiently query your professors during last-minute meetings. Ideally, you would have already met with them (but I didn’t write this post until last night). Identify information gaps and go see them right now.

#6 – The writing. Ahhh, the writing.

Writing is a poetically beautiful exercise of the mind.

But sometimes…

It sucks.

That said – the clearer your mind is – the clearer your writing will be. Give yourself a fair chance. That means understanding what part of your day provides the most optimal writing groove. When is your brain most cooperative with you? Can you write after a huge lunch? No? Then don’t. Be self-aware.  If you want the best your mind has to offer, be good to it. Sleep with regularity and avoid Haverfest–like substances.  Walk around and read your writing out loud if you need to counteract the malaise associated with frustrating writing binges.

#7 – Keep writing. Have writer’s block? Mind map it out. Dump any and every idea that comes to mind onto paper. Actual paper.  Whether or not you have great transitional sentences to connect them – give your mind the release of seeing your ideas in front of you. Take a step back and begin toying with different arrangements and sequence structures for them. The process can be as messy as it needs to be – so long as you REVISE.

#8 – The HONOR CODE. Review it again. For the first time. Please also review these instructions on self-scheduled exams.

#9 – Avoid people who are not about their business. They will bring you down. See tip #1.

#10 – Use your resources. Your deans, CAPS, the Writing Center, your librarians, and the OAR are all here for you. If any of it becomes overwhelming, reach out.

You can and you will do this!

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