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The Final Countdown: How To Start Preparing For Finals Early

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal State Chico chapter.

It’s a very odd time of year. The weather is finally becoming sporadically pleasant, and yet as college students, we are reaching the most difficult part of the semester. With less than three weeks left and the looming of finals week, stress is probably starting to creep in, only to steadily grow into an almost unmanageable monster. This is also likely the time in the semester when we all tell ourselves how that won’t happen this time. We all say, “This semester, I will be on top of it. It will definitely not be like last semester. Or the one before. Or the one before that.” This semester, I for one am committed to actually following through on this resolution. Here’s how I plan to do it, and how you can too. 

1. a game plan

A roadmap to success is crucial in the next few weeks. Start by organizing your workload into previous/missing assignments, current assignments, and upcoming assignments. Once you’ve gone through everything you need to complete, it will be easy to assign priority to each individual project, which will help you formulate a chronological to-do list. In your calendar, designate times to complete each one. This calendar, if utilized properly, will become your best friend for the month of May.

2. Base Camp

The last leg of any semester is always the most difficult, as feelings of lethargy and stagnation make motivation difficult to come by. We become too ingratiated in our habits, and that includes where we habitually study. Even if you have a current study spot that you love, I suggest finding a new one. A change of scenery is often inspiring, and it’s easier to not fall into bad habits like checking your phone if your new environment feels like a newly established place of study. Likely, unless you’re impressively diligent, you’ve done more in your current study spot than just study. Maybe it has doubled as a hangout spot or simply turned into a place where not much work gets done. A new spot is a fresh start. There are a few things to look out for to ensure you pick somewhere that will truly be conducive to productivity. First, make sure it’s somewhere that you genuinely enjoy being. Not merely convenient or quiet, but somewhere you won’t mind spending several hours at a time. Second, make sure it’s an environment that won’t impair your ability to get work done. If you’re someone who prefers silent, indoor workspaces, try a student area on campus, such as the student lounges in the Arts and Humanities or Science Buildings. If you find you work best outdoors, try to find a spot by the creek or on a campus lawn. If you can use a Wi-Fi hot spot, there are innumerable spots throughout Lower Bidwell Park that would be great as well. If you don’t mind a little bustle around you while you work, or maybe find that it even helps you focus, try a local coffee shop that you’ve never been to. There are several downtown, and plenty more scattered around Chico if you don’t mind a drive. Speaking of driving, my third suggestion is to find somewhere you won’t mind actually getting to each day. If it’s too far, or the walk or drive is annoying, you might start to make excuses to skip studying. Hopefully, the alternative is to just study at home, but the goal is to create a novel, enjoyable experience. Once you’ve found your spot, it’s time to get to work.

3. Keep a calendar!

This section is simply to reiterate the importance of keeping a calendar, one specifically dedicated to these few weeks of May. Whether you prefer an electronic one, such as Notion, or a handwritten one, it could help to keep multiple versions – an overview of all the remaining days, one for each week, and a breakdown of each day. All three may not be necessary for everyone – keeping multiple or maybe a particular version could be overwhelming – but being able to see your progress and know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish at any given time is certainly helpful. 

4. gather supplies

Before each study session, assemble your own unique cache of necessities. Coffee, energy drinks, health drinks, healthy snacks, a sweet treat, your favorite water bottle (I cannot stress enough the importance of a good water bottle, it’s honestly my number one recommended purchase), your favorite pens, highlighters, notebooks, any study tools or accessories that you’re fond of – these are the essentials.

5. motivation

Finding external motivation is hard. In my experience, there is only internal motivation. I can definitely see when something is due, but that has little to no affect on when I do it; that is until it’s around 10:30 p.m. on the due date and now I’m scrambling and not able to put in the full amount of effort that I not only know I’m capable of but also genuinely want to give. Procrastination is a common struggle, and this article is a reflection of my plan to deal with that problem. To be honest, motivational words or other forms of external encouragement haven’t really done much for me in the past (and I really wish they had). If I can offer any advice, it’s aim to impress yourself and believe in your own capability. The motivation to do anything, whether it’s a single assignment or a whole semester’s worth, can only come from within. 

Josette Travis

Cal State Chico '25

Josette Travis is a third-year student at Chico State. A Chico local with an ever-growing love for her hometown, she is a passionate academic, currently studying Physics, as well as Theatre and Dance. She is an avid lover of the arts, with interests in literature, cinema, art history, fashion, and performance. Through her involvement in Her Campus, Josette is branching into the world of content creation and online journalism, and hopes to usher in the revival of the lost art of print journalism. She is passionate about the ability of online spaces to bring communities together and foster change in our world. In her free time, Josette loves spending time with her family, her cats, paperback books, and Pinterest. She enjoys the many cafés and park spots around town, and connecting with everyone who has chosen to make Chico their new home!