The “end of the world” may have come and gone, but the college version of the end of the world is here: finals week. And while this means summer is thisclose, it also means fifty-pound backpacks, three hours of sleep in the final stretch, and finding that it’s impossible to get a table at the library…where’s my bikini already?! With this chaos, it can be hard to find the motivation to finish the academic year strongly. Here are several ways you can find your inspiration!
First of all, set aside specific times to study. Scheduling a studying appointment with yourself is a great way to ensure that you won’t keep procrastinating on the work you have to do. Once you’ve sat down at your “appointment,” create goals for that session. One of the reasons papers and other assignments always take me so long is that I don’t want to do them, so I find it really hard to focus and always somehow manage to find myself on Facebook (one more study tip: disabling Facebook or letting one of my friends change my password temporarily makes me about a thousand times more productive). I’ve found that if I set a goal of finishing an assignment in an hour, then set my cell phone timer to count down from that, I get motivated by the ticking clock and get it done twice as fast as I normally would have. This works even better if I give myself an incentive: if I finish all my homework by 9:30, I’ll have extra time to hang out with my friends before going to bed. Or if I get an A on an important project, I’ll celebrate at the mall. It’s like retail therapy, but even better!
Of course, when you’ve been studying for the past week, sometimes you just need a day off to let your brain recharge. When your mind goes blank and you can’t memorize one more flashcard, take a nap or reward yourself with a movie. The more tired I am, the more I just stare at the screen and get frustrated, so the time spent revitalizing my tired mind actually makes my studying time more efficient. Speaking of naps, make sure you get at least one night of adequate sleep. After all, all of the cramming you’ve been doing won’t help one bit, if you can’t keep your eyes open for the exam.
One important thing you can do is set aside a designated place to study. I’m much more motivated when I know I’m sitting somewhere that I can get a lot done. The traditional spot to study is at the library, which is several floors of silence, books, and the mixed blessing of spotty cell phone service. While the atmosphere is highly studious, it can get repetitive to go there every time you need to do homework. Instead, try finding a spot at the lesser-known law, architecture or math libraries for the same studious atmosphere but a new location.
If you’re not a library person, try going to the EMU. There are couches and tables everywhere, plus a room by the Fishbowl which is covered in velvet couches and chairs—which is just as amazing and Urban Outfitters-y as it sounds. The upper level is also filled with chairs and other people studying, and it has vending machines for your studying cravings!
If the sun finally reappears, take your books outside. There are numerous quiet, peaceful places to get your Vitamin D while getting your work done, like the EMU lawn, the grass in front of Deady, the Humpy Lumpy lawn – or for a study spot with a view, the turf fields during intramural soccer games. That is, if you don’t mind getting too distracted! The parks near campus, such as Alton Baker or Hendricks, are also gorgeous places with close to no distractions.
For those who don’t mind background noise, a local coffee shop just might do the trick. Starbucks or Café Roma are close to campus and supply caffeine, outlets, and endless possibilities for people watching when you need a study break.
Studying at a friend’s dorm or apartment will not only keep both of you on track, but their place might not be as distracting as your own room.
As much as it seems like it is sometimes, college is not just one big party. It’s your chance to make new friends and discover yourself, of course, but your primary goal is to learn. Then remember how much you’re paying to learn. A lot. And you don’t want to waste that money. So go find a niche where you can focus, get motivated with a schedule and incentives, and good luck with finals!
(Photo credit: Steven S.)