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Navigating Midterm Week When Your Health Gets in the Way

Midterm week is filled with late nights, last minute study sessions, and not nearly enough sleep. With the stress and pressure to do well on exams, the last thing anyone wants is to get sick! Unfortunately, life happens, so it’s a possibility that you might be under the weather when midterm week rolls around. Just last year, I got chronically ill a few weeks before my first midterms. I had to return home for three weeks, saw multiple doctors, and had a scary ER visit. Thankfully, my symptoms resolved and I was able to return back to campus a week before my exams. However, I had missed so much school and found myself completely overwhelmed and lost. It got me thinking about people who suffer from chronic illness throughout their lives, or those who fall under the weather right before their midterms. How do they keep up with their classes? From my experience, I learned so much, and it’s definitely possible to pass (and excel) on your exams even if your health is less than perfect. Whether you happen to get sick with the flu, deal with chronic illness, or even suffer from anxiety or depression, these circumstances don’t have to define your academics.

Communication is key

First off, get in touch with your professors and let them know what’s going on. I was surprised at how understanding my professors were when I told them I had to take a few weeks off from school to sort out my health. I laid out what was going on, and made sure they knew I was determined to stay in the class, despite my absence from lectures. This helps to distinguish yourself as a motivated student who won’t fall behind. Your professors will get to know you and will be more likely to then work with you to move deadlines around so you can be in your best health when you take your exams.

Focus on the basics

Having to miss class before midterm week can get overwhelming quickly. Rather than allowing that stress to force you into inaction, keep your days simple. Work on the assignments you can and get in touch with your professors if you need extra help. In a world that is increasingly moving online, it was easy for me to keep up with homework and assignments. Now with coronavirus, most classes offer online lectures, making the ability to stay up to date with course materials even more accessible.

Reach out to health services

If you suffer from chronic illness or mental health issues, getting in touch with services such as KOKUA at UH Mānoa may be helpful. They offer special accommodations for students who are dealing with disabilities, which is helpful if your health is impacting your studies and ability to succeed.

Getting sick in college is sometimes unavoidable, but it doesn’t mean your studies have to suffer! With communication, planning, and seeking help if needed, it’s still possible to ace your exams and achieve great grades, too.


Ashley is currently a junior at Boston University. She is majoring in conservation and ecology biology with an interest in marine and wildlife conservation. In her free time she loves to practice yoga, read, create wellness content for her instagram @soulfullyashley, and surf when she can make it to the beach.
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