Your high school teachers warned you this moment was coming: college finals. They’re not fun, they’re super stressful, and the anxiety of waiting for grades to get back will haunt your holiday break. High school finals and college finals aren’t the same, and what worked back then might not work anymore.
Here are a few tips to get you through your first college finals season.
Know Your Deadlines
This one’s really easy: look up when everything in your classes is due on your syllabi, and write it all down. Don’t get blindsided by something three weeks from now and have to scramble to do it last minute. Know when your tests are, when your papers are due, and get a sense of how much work you’ll have to do before then.
Make a Schedule
This one’s a total lifesaver for me – if I know I have one week to finish a project, I budget out my time accordingly. If there’s a day of the week where you don’t have any classes in the afternoon, schedule yourself in some study time. Also, as much as you might not want to give up your weekends, schedule some library time on a Sunday. Bigger projects are always less intimidating if you have a full day to chip away at them instead of just a couple of hours.
Do a Little Every Day
This is super important when it comes to your classes that have traditional exams. Don’t cram the night before – even if you just skim through your notes, or the slides online, once a day for half an hour, that could really help out in the long run and make the information stick.
Give Yourself Time to Edit
On the other hand, if your finals consist mostly of papers and projects, it’s much, much easier to get away with doing it all in one day. Depending on your work style, it might be super easy for you to do it that way, too, but make sure that one day isn’t the day before it’s due. Give yourself at least another day so you can look at the paper with fresh eyes and edit. Whether it’s a full content edit or just skimming for typos, both can save you points in the long run.
Work With Friends
It’s so much easier to study when someone’s holding you accountable, and study groups are a great way not to procrastinate your work. If you’re lounging in your dorm scrolling through Twitter, you might just ignore your textbooks, whereas if you have a commitment to study with your classmates, you’ll put in more effort. Plus, you can all commiserate with one another.
Talk to Your Professors
If you’re struggling with a concept or don’t know how to approach a project, ask your professor to clarify. Or even ask them for help! Most of them aren’t as scary as they seem, and if you’re in a big class, there’s probably a TA you can ask too if your professor is too intimidating. Make sure you don’t let yourself live in conclusion when there’s an easy way out.
No matter how scary finals may seem, they don’t last forever, and your reward is a few blessed weeks away from academia to enjoy the holidays. So work hard, but don’t stress too much, and it’ll all start over in January.