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Avoiding the Mid-Semester Meltdown

The beginning of each semester in college is a stressful blur of new classes, professors and expectations. For many earnest undergrads hoping for a promising start, the first week of the semester is often an industrious marathon of color-coding binders, attending every class and taking detailed notes in the neatest handwriting. When the workload is light and midterms are distant, students are confident they can stay focused and achieve that glorious 4.0.

Yet in an instant, or so it seems, a month has flown by and those noble scholastic ambitions have widely been pushed aside by the unending stimuli that tend to define the collegiate experience. All too soon, themed frat parties, late-night pizza and movie marathons with roommates have taken precedence over 150 page readings on Plato and Aristotle. Students may find themselves frantic and unprepared, staring at a daunting midterm week full of papers, exams and deadlines.

But if the right steps are taken early in the semester and throughout exam week, you can easily avoid the terrors of the mid-semester meltdown.

Write It All Down

Writing down assignments, either in a personal planner or an electronic calendar, is crucial to keeping up with course work throughout the semester. Utilizing a planner not only forces a student to acknowledge specific assignments and their due dates, but it also helps with time management.

Maura McDevitt, 21, president of the Binghamton University Scholars Council and resident assistant for Mountainview College explained that she often witnesses students fall off-track in their studies early in the semester and regards writing down assignments as imperative, “It’s so common to see students spend all of their time hanging out with friends in September, and then scrambling to catch up in October. I can’t stress enough how important it is for them to develop a committed relationship with their planner,” McDevitt said, “Whether it is a book they carry everywhere, their Macbook’s iCal, or their smartphone. Another great tool is to use the 24 hour rule; every assignment you receive in class gets started within 24 hours, even if it’s just to pick a couple possible topics for a paper.”

Use Class-Breaks Efficiently

One of the best aspects of a college schedule is the large gaps of time in between classes. While it’s tempting to spend these chunks of time hanging out with friends and browsing Facebook, students should use the several hours of free time  to catch up on small assignments. Allowing work to accumulate can lead to more anxiety later in the semester, so it’s important for students to use these breaks productively.

“The best time management tip I can give students is to take advantage of the small bits of time they have free in between classes to do minor tasks, like sending emails, writing summaries of articles, printing any paperwork, or organizing their planner,” said McDevitt, “It is imperative that they do not go back to their rooms and hang out for an hour, because those small tasks build up so quickly.”

Take Care of Yourself

Time management aside, it is important for students to remember to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally. Eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising regularly, and yes, taking breaks is just as essential as studying when it comes to avoiding a stress-induced meltdown.

Katie Orr, 21, a senior majoring in accounting and president of the School of Management Scholars Program says she always makes a point of integrating a “break” time into her study sessions, “On very busy days, I’ll try to schedule in some television or Netflix, so I have time to relax,” Orr said.

Staying healthy and remembering to relax a bit will help to reduce stress and increase focus–which is more than necessary when you have 2 papers and a lab exam on the same day.

“If you don’t take care of your mental and physical health, you won’t do well on your midterms.” McDevitt added, “Take the time to relax for a few minutes, while studying. Go for a walk, listen to some waves crashing, or grab coffee with a friend, and you’ll come back to studying with much more focus than if you had tried to sit still for four hours.”

Lauren Howley is a junior at Binghamton University pursuing a double degreen in English/rhetoric and Marketing. Originally from Staten Island, New York, Lauren thinks that New York City is the most beautiful place in the world and hopes to one day live and work there. She was a staff writer for the Arts and Lifestyle section of the Binghamton PipeDream, where she spent her time writing about fashion and college life. Last summer, she spent her time researching honeymoon destinations and blogging about bridal trends as an intern for The Knot Weddings Magazine in New York City. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys laughing, hanging out with her friends, blasting music while she drives, applying movie quotes every situation possible, and drinking coffee like its her job. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in lifestyle journalism or entrepreneurship.
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