View More

There are approximately 15 weeks in a semester and right now you are in the final stretch of the year.  Now is the time to continue to push forward and finish strong. You will have a whirlwind last few weeks, filled with study groups, testing, papers, and presentations.  The final weeks of the semester require a lot of time, energy, and brain power.  You can successfully conquer the end of the semester if you follow these simple steps:

1.       Get some rest.  It may seem unachievable, but it is necessary for your brain and body to get a full 8 hours of sleep.  Getting enough rest will help to rejuvenate the mind and allow you to stay sharp.

2.       Eat.  Providing food to your body provides nourishment to the brain.  When studying, have snacks available to help your brain stay sharp and focused on the task.

3.       Align yourself with others.  Reach out to others in the class to study, ask questions, and gauge yourself against their knowledge and progress.  It is helpful to utilize others in the class to stay on track and to see if their understanding aligns with your understanding.  You may have notes or information that they need and you may need something as well.

4.       Start Early.  There is never too much studying and preparation: the more you do, the more you connect and retain the information. Cramming can work for short-term retention of information. You are not working to remember the information long-term, you are simply working to regurgitate the information in a short amount of time.

5.       Prepare for mistakes.  When something goes wrong, it will most definitely go wrong at the most inopportune time. For example, the Wi-Fi will go out, the printer will not work, someone in the group will get sick, you will have to work late, another paper or project will take more time to complete than what you projected.  Take time to plan in case of an interruption or emergency.  You will be grateful when things do not go according to plan and you have time to resolve, restructure, and execute another plan of action.

6.       Ask your professor.  Waiting until finals to talk to your professor is not the most ideal thing to do. Getting face-to-face with your professor as early as possible in the semester will help send a message to the professor that you are serious about your field and that you are an engaged student.  Waiting until the very end of the semester may send the message that you are a slacker.

7.       Check your syllabus.  Please sure to thoroughly review the syllabus.  This is extremely important, because the syllabus lists all requirements, due dates, and possible extra credit opportunities.  The syllabus is a good starting point for your assignment or to see possible topics on the exam.  You should become very familiar with the syllabus and what is being required of you each week.

8.       No cheating.  If you are thinking about cheating, do not it. Cheating can get you suspended from school and ruin your academic career.  Do not participate with friends who may plan to cheat. Do not utilize a previously written paper.  Do not plagiarize a paper. Take the time to truly research the information and present your own knowledge and ideas.  There are so many ways you can get caught cheating and most universities take a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cheating.

9.       Get another set of eyes.  Reach out to friends, classmates, professors, or teaching assistants and ask them to provide feedback on your paper or presentation.  Having another set of eyes will help determine if you missed something, if you are clear in your thoughts, and if you need to tweak anything.  This will require a little planning as you will need to factor in time for you to write the paper or create the presentation, have someone review your materials, and revise it before submitting.  

10.   Relax.  Finals are a stressful time, but take time to relax and unwind throughout the process.  Find a healthy way to release stress;,like exercising, meditating, or listening to music.  Stress can lead to unhealthy anxiety and cause you to perform worse than you should.  Take time to encourage yourself and know that you’ve got things under control.  You went to class all semester, you took notes, you dedicated time to study and you know your stuff.  Tell yourself you got this and be confident in your abilities and knowledge.   

Finals are looming and now is the time to buckle down and end the semester strong. Look at your grades and make and fair assessment of where you stand in the course.  It is important to know how you will end the semester, there should not be very many surprises when you receive your final grades.  Your grades should reflect the work and dedication you have put in all semester. So if you slacked all semester, failed to regularly attend class, and never reviewed your notes you cannot expect to do very well in the class.  These final few weeks are important and should be used to solidify your grades in the class.

Be sure to talk to your professors, ask them about any missing assignments you may be able to make-up, extra credit opportunities, or one-on-one sessions for further assistance on a particular subject. Your professor is just one of the many resources available to you especially during finals.  Take time to talk to your peers and find others looking to study together.  Having a peer that is strong in an area you may not be and vice versa makes for a great partnership, as you can both help each other and benefit from the arrangement.  You also have tutors available to assist.  Tutors can be organized by the department, could be someone you find on your own, or former students that did well in the course.  Do not be ashamed to reach out and discuss the areas that pose a problem for you.  Open communication about where you need help will only benefit you.  Teaching Assistants (TA) is another added resource available for your benefit.  The TA unlike your professor have more availability to assist and may be able to explain in way that is easier to understand.

If you have not reviewed your notes, now poses a good time to review.  Take time to take a second (third or fourth) look at the material.  Be sure you have a clear understanding of the material.  Any cloudy concepts should be reviewed in more detail; write a list of questions you have, create a list of things that require more attention, or focus on the things that you are not confident about.  Besides your notes, see what other resources are available. Did (you) your professor tape lectures? Are there online materials available; PowerPoints, web classes, or supplemental readings are possible options.  Is there a study guide or a list of areas to study on the syllabus?

You are in the final stretch and now is the time for you to pull together all of the resources you have accumulated over the semester.  This will be a combination of notes, relationship building, and asking for assistance. Take this time to reach out and use every resource possible.  Your final grade should not be a surprise, because you have been planning for this all semester. Good Luck!ira finishline

The Spring semester is drawing near and now is the time when final assignments, take home exams, and the dreaded group projects are now due.  Working alone can be great, because you can do things on your own at your own pace and on your own time.  There is no one to discuss thoughts and preferences on the way things should be completed. You are not putting your grade in the hands of someone else.  Working alone is possibly the best case scenario. Or is it?

Working in groups is designed to help you grow in a variety of ways. Group assignments force you to interact with others.  The selection process can be great when you are given the opportunity to select your own group.  Friends, the kid next to you that aced every quiz, or even the crush you have had your eye on all semester.  However, the selection process can also be daunting if you are randomly selected or placed in pre-assigned groups. Instead of dreading this experience, think of it as an opportunity to grow and learn.  Group assignments allow the best parts of each person to shine.  Someone will naturally migrate into the role of leader.  Someone will be creative and find ways to add their gift to the project.  Someone will be organized and create a timeline and ensure the group stays on track.  Inevitably there will be someone who waits for a role in the group, and if no role is given they will float along throughout the project. The issues arise when expectations are not set, a non-leader takes on the leadership role, or when personalities clash.  Working together can be an enjoyable experience, but you have to tackle concerns from the beginning and do not wait until the last minute to achieve the goals of the group.

Below are 10 things to keep in mind when working in a group.

  1. Identify the goal of the group. Is it to a PowerPoint, a skit,  a debate, a movie, etc.? Refer back to the actual assignment and make sure everyone understands what the professor wants. Ensure you identify this early on and that everyone knows what the overall objective of the group.  Making sure everyone is on the same page from the beginning will eliminate a lot of frustration, confusion, ad last minute scrambling.
  2. Develop and a game plan and identify roles.  Each person will have their own strengths.  Allow people to identify their areas of strength and competence. However, the assignment is an opportunity to grow, so do not allow everyone to shy away from the “hard” or “difficult portion of the assignment.  Everyone will have to step out of their comfort zone at some point in the project. Someone will emerge as the leader of the group.  This will come naturally to someone or  someone may have to be appointed. Do not allow this position to become a dictatorship, the process from beginning should be a democracy and a collaborative effort to ensure all voices in the group are heard.
  3. Set-up a timeline. Identify the due date and work backwards from that date to identify milestones for the project.  You      should have a minimum of 2 meetings before your final meeting to ensure everyone is on target and playing their role.  Having at least three meetings will allow you to identify weak links, gaps in the presentation, ensure each person is on target with their portion. When you discuss progress you will be able to see early on if someone is not completing their task.
  4. Be open to new ideas.  People will do things and interpret things differently, different does not mean wrong, just means different.  Allow yourself to try new things and be open to a different way of processing the project.  Everyone will see things in a different way.  The only way the project will be successful is if everyone has the opportunity to infuse a piece of  themselves into the final edition. No one should shut down ideas or not consider how an idea could positively impact the final project.
  5. Bring a positive attitude.  From the very beginning, have a positive attitude.  Do not show your disgust for group work.  Do not let previous experiences negatively impact how you approach this new experience.  Do not allow your personally feelings towards individuals affect how you work. Do not allow your distaste for the subject or topic overshadow your      contributions to the group.  When someone else greets you with negativity respond with positivity.
  6. Do your part. Nothing is more frustrating than working with a group and someone does not do their part of the project.  Ensure you are available to meet.  Make sure you are on time when there is      a meeting.  Bring something to discuss when the meeting takes place.  No one wants to hear your excuses about why you cannot meet, why you are late, or how you are struggling to complete your portion.  Come prepared and prove to be a strong link.
  7. Do not take things personal.  Group assignments can bring out the best and worst in others. There may come a time when tensions are high and unkind words may be      spoken.  In these moments, focus on the project and not the person. Focus on the needs of the group and not the person.  Do not feed into the tensions, stay focused on the goal.
  8. Do not involve the professor.  The professor does not want “babysit” your group and how you work together.  As young adults, you and your peers should be able to work together to achieve the goal at hand.  If problems arise you should try everything among the group to resolve your issues without involving the professor. Meeting a minimum of three times will allow you to catch issues early before they can impact the entire project. If you need to involve the professor, it should be related to the goal and expectations not personal conflicts. If there are personal conflicts that cannot be resolved then you should approach the professor with the issues, the strategies you have implemented, and how the group thinks the problem should be resolved.  This will show      the professor that you are not tattle telling and that there was an attempt to resolve the issues.
  9.  Do  a dry run.  At some point before the final presentation, the group should complete a run-through of the presentation from beginning to end.  Each person in the group should have a copy of the presentation and know the role that each plays and should have an understanding of ALL of the information in the presentation.  Focusing on just your area will not give you all of the information about the topic.  Emergencies happen, people oversleep, someone could get stage freight; you should be able to      present on the topic in the event you are the ONLY person available the day of the presentation.  The “show” must go on even if you are the only person there to present.
  10. Take it seriously. From the moment you receive the topic to the moment you begin the presentation, take it seriously.  The entire semester may boil down to this one moment. Your failure to plan and thoroughly think things out could result in a failing grade on the project.  A failing grade on the project could result in a failing grade in the class. Do whatever you can to show your professor that you are taking the assignment seriously and want to achieve. Little things like professional attire, a portfolio cover, or a well scripted presentation could go a long way.  Taking things to a creative level, involving the audience, or tying things into today’s popular culture can also win major bonus points with the professor.

Congrats you made it through the first semester of college and it is time to go home.  If you went home during Thanksgiving, your transition at Winter Break may come easy.  If you did not go home for Thanksgiving, there will be a few things for you to consider.

For the last few months you have been encouraged to think for yourself, try new things, and challenge the way you think. Your family may not be ready for your new ideas, thoughts, and philosophies.  Be sensitive to the fact that change may not be easily or readily accepted by your family.  You may have to ease them into the newer version of you.  This notion does not only apply to your thoughts, but also your hair, body art, and style of dress.

When you arrive home, keep in mind your family remembers who you were when you left in August/September.  It may take some time or a little coaxing for them to adjust to the new you.  Here are some things that you should consider when going home.  Try to consider ways you can alleviate tension with your family during your stay at home.

  • Your Parents House Has Rules:  at school you have rules too, but for the most part you do what you want to do.  If you do not want to clean, you don’t clean.  If you do not want to come home, you don’t come home.  If you do not want to go to class, you don’t go to class. When you go home you have to change your new mindset and respect what your parent’s request. Consider these areas:
    • Curfew- Do you have a curfew? Does it matter what time you come home? Does it matter if you come home?
    • Chores- How will you be expected to contribute to the house?
    • Expectations- How will your parents view your time at home? As a vacation, as more help, as bonding time, etc.  Finding out what your parents expect will reduce conflict and feelings being hurt.
    • Sleep- You may be comfortable with sleepign to noon, but your parents may thing anything past 10a is too late. A small discussion can avoid tense moments and being awaken aburptly.
    • Your Friends Missed you too: you coming home is exciting for your friends too.  They want to catch up with you hear crazy stories from the semester.  Sometimes you will have new friends mingle with old friends.  Sometimes the new you will not be accepted by the old circle of friends. Be prepared for this and ready to accept that sometimes people grow apart. Make sure you do not let your friends monopolize all of your time at home.
    • Siblings need love too: Do not forget about your siblings (and pets).  You will want to send time with them as well.  They will want to know how life at college has been and discover what waits for them in the future.  Talk to them about coming to visit and the fun activities you will have planned.
    • Ditching Bad Habits:  Be sure to leave your bad habits at school.  As we mentioned, you going home a new person may not be received with open arms especially if you have picked up new habits.  Your family may not be excited if you started smoking, if you use [more] foul language, or if are more apathetic.  Prepare yourself and family by letting them know you have changed and the ways you have changed.  See if those changes will be accepted at home or if they should be left at school.

Going home after semester one can be quite stressful, but it can also be fun.  Using the above information as a guide can help your short time at home go smoothly.  Just think in a few weeks you will be back at school.  Enjoy your Winter Break:)

That’s right. FINALS.

 

Finals will always be the hardest time of the semester for students because you have term papers to write, tests to study for, projects to create, speeches to memorize, Power Points to recite, the list is seemingly never ending!

 

Now, I certainly wish I could list off ways to make preparing for finals magically easier, but the truth is, Finals are no joke. A lot of hard work and commitment is required to be put into your Finals in order to pull out a good grade. But, as always, there are little snippets of personal experience that I can shed light on that will help you cut a few corners here and there and make the Finals process a little bit less stressful.

 

Eat Right, Sleep Good, & Take Breaks. Simple as that. Eating right gives you proper nutrients and brain power to focus on study those exam questions, sleeping good makes you a lot less stressed and maintain a proper schedule, and taking breaks gives your brain some leisure (because cramming for 9+ hours with no breaks over night with no sleep eating nothing but fast food isn’t healthy, believe it or not.)

 

Whatever you do, DON’T miss the review session. Interestingly, it seems like many of my fellow peers and my residents at Housing seem to think “review session” is synonymous with “Wow! No class, I learned all this already!” I think the exact opposite. I hear “review session” and think “Wow! A window into what the Final is going to look like!” And I am right about 99% of the time.

 

Pay Attention to How Professors Structure Their Class. If all the past tests have been multiple choice, more than likely, so will the final. So prepare accordingly. If there has always been two essay questions at the end of the tests or midterm, more than likely, so will the final. Time to put that essay thinking cap on! Also, listen to when the professor or TA say something along the lines of “This might be a good essay question on the Final.” That is, generally, a pretty good indicator to what the essay question on the Final is going to look like. Personally, I always highlight a giant neon star next to those notes.

 

During Finals, BREATHE. Before I start any final, verbal or written, I remember to take a giant deep breathe and calm down for 10 seconds before actually starting. If giving a speech, those 10 seconds give you enough time to feel a bit more comfortable in front of the audience instead of starting in a babbling mess due to your nerves. Same goes with a test. Take a breather before beginning and then dive in. Starting off calm actually helps your mental state.

 

Ultimately, the truth of the matter is most students find their own way how to deal with Finals that works for them. The above tips are merely tactics that work for me and ways I have found them to be most successful with my Finals schedule. The bottom line: Just try your best!

IT’S THE END OF THE SEMESTER ALREADY?! I STILL HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO!

We’ve all been there. No matter how hard we try to be productive, our best friend–procrastination always comes knocking at our door asking to play. How do we manage?

Check out this awesome link with 12 tips on aceing our finals. Keep these in mind for midterms in the Spring semester.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/01/study-tips-for-exams-12-ways-to-ace-your-finals_n_789731.html#s193495&title=Study_In_Chunks

Good Luck!