The end of the semester is always bittersweet: longing for the end of school combines with the stress of everything to do before it’s over. Luckily, there are ways of making the last two-ish weeks of school semi-enjoyable, or at least survivable.
As a graduating senior, I have more than a little experience with this tricky time of year. Here are my tried-and-true tips for end-of-semester survival.
1. Little things = Enjoyment
While this is especially pressing for seniors like me, it is crucial in this time to enjoy all the little things going on around you. Most campuses will have end-of-year events, whether that means tables offering free stress balls and soda on the plaza, or bringing in puppies to help ease your stress. (Yes, some schools offer this!)
Do the things!
Like we always say, you should take advantage of everything your university has to offer, and savor all of it. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for enjoying the small stuff just because you could be stressing the big stuff. It’s by enjoying the small stuff that you avoid stress over the bigger stuff.
(Note: if your campus does not provide puppies, YouTube is an invaluable resource.)
2. Knowing thyself = SUCCESS
Knowing thyself is the beginning of making a battle plan. (I use the word “thyself” because I know that I enjoy things more if I used outdated and semi-obnoxious language.)
You probably know your favorite places to study, your best study music, and under which conditions you will thrive. So put those into practice!
And if you don’t know, experiment. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re too busy to learn a thing or two about thyself, and try listening to Metallica (which is how I write papers) or watching Veronica Mars while you study for math (that’s how I aced Stats).
We’re all weird humans with their own sets of quirks — learn yours, own them proudly, and put them to use.
3. Snacks = Inspiration
Any good battle plan should include food. When you’re learning about thyself, discover what gets you working your best, whether that’s constant snacking or reward-based splurges.
If you require continuous sustenance (no shame!), try to find a semi-bland finger food like Cheerios or pretzels, so it’s easy to eat and you don’t burn out on it quickly, and keep water on hand so you don’t dehydrate.
If you perform best when you know something good is coming, set up a plan like one piece of candy for every page, or a doughnut after each final, and avoid these two traps: failing to follow through on your promise to yourself, and/or rewarding yourself before you’ve earned it.
The key with food and finals is to maintain a level of trust with yourself. Keep your promises!
(And don’t go overboard. Food can be inspiring during difficult times, but too much will hurt more than help you.)
4. Clothes = Not Everything
Some people swear by dressing up for finals because it helps them perform better; others wouldn’t dream of wearing anything other than sweatpants during dead week.
In my experience, what really matters is not what you’re wearing, but how what you’re wearing makes you feel. If dressing your best makes you feel like you can do anything, go for it. If dressing in anything but athleisure staples distracts you, then wear something else.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it can change from day to day. One day you can look like you’re going to take over the world, and the next you can look like you just got out of bed. The key is not consistency, but maximizing productivity.
Again, know thyself and wear what will help you perform best.
5. Breaks = Necessary
This shouldn’t be entirely surprising, but I often underestimate the importance of taking real, actual breaks.
For a long time I tried to do the thing where I watch Netflix while I’m doing my homework in an attempt to take a break and work simultaneously. While this can totally be effective, and I definitely still do this, it does not count as a break.
Breaks have to be times where you do not think about what you need to do. You have to be entirely invested in the break for it to count.
For example: Put away the textbooks, and spend twenty minutes on Pinterest, watch a show on Netflix, go to a movie, hang out with friends, it doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it’s not school.
6. Moving forward = Survival
The biggest thing I’ve learned about dead/finals week is to keep moving. It often feels like you’ll never get everything done, that the semester will never actually end. But guess what?
It always works out.
Here are my three tips for how to move forward. The first, as my mom always says, is “Just do the next thing.” Don’t think about everything you need to do, just the next thing. And then the next thing after that. Until finally you’ve done everything you need to.
The second helpful tip is to pick a day, any day after everything will be over, and plan something to look forward to. It can be something as drastic as a trip or something as simple as getting your favorite venti frappuccino. But pick a day and remind yourself that you just need to get to that day.
And third, make the un-fun things fun. Turn studying into a game, make end-of-semester cleaning and/or packing into a dance party, and do all of it with friends because they do, truly, make this whole college thing just a little bit easier to deal with.
However you deal with dead/finals week, we will all make it out alive and with the help of my tips, we’ll still be sane at the end of it.
What do you think?
Do you have go-to tips or tricks for surviving the end of the semester? Have you tried any of these tips? What are you looking forward to after the semester is over?