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Practical Ways to Finish the Semester Strong

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Boston chapter.

The second half of the spring semester seems to creep up on us, and overwhelm us with the intensity of an academic year coming to a close. As a graduate student, life is extremely challenging, and undergraduates are also facing their own unique challenges; I’m going to be suggesting some of the study and lifestyle choices I have accumulated over my four years in my collegiate experiences that may be helpful in managing some stress!

  • The most important thing is having good playlists

Music has such a powerful energy that can uplift and motivate or accurately reflect the rage and frustration felt during these weeks. I have a playlist for every mood and every activity that I do, and if I don’t have just the right playlist, then I’ll make one. My Spotify playlists are color and mood coded; I have RED and BLACK for when your frustrations get the best of you, and I have TEAL, ORANGE, and YELLOW when you need a mood boost. I have PALE BLUE, GOLD, and LIGHT GRAY when you need to study or focus, and I have PURPLE and NAVY when you need to unplug and be taken on a musical journey. When the semester is done or if you ever need to remember how badass you are, then Main Character Energy and TAN are the perfect reminders. If you already have playlists you love, then put them on while you study or are feeling frustrated; don’t convince yourself that your emotions or feelings aren’t valid, and be open to releasing that pent up energy.

  • Use an interval study method to avoid burnout

My favorite study tools that I built in my undergrad are the 45 on/15 off method and how to skim read without missing important details. For the 45/15 method, I set a timer and Do Not Disturb for 45 minutes and for those 45 minutes the only priority is studying; I listen to PALE BLUE and tunnel my vision into my textbook or readings/notes. When the time is up, spend the remainder of the hour doing the exact opposite; scroll on social media, text friends, grab snacks, watch half a tv show, or, for me, I read on my kindle app for those 15 minutes. After the timer goes off, the cycle starts again for however many hours you need it to. My skim reading technique is meant for articles or textbook reading that you should have done or maybe did do but need a refresher; read the first page, then read every other page, and read the last page. For articles, this ends up looking like reading the intro, half the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. On each page you read, highlight one thing that could be helpful for your paper or used to remind yourself what was being said on each page.

  • Drinking lots of water and setting reminders to remember to eat

Taking care of yourself during this crazy and chaotic month and a half is essential to your success; remember to set all of your alarms and reminders at the beginning of each morning and double check before you go to bed. Drink as much water as you can remember to, and aim to eat three meals a day but don’t punish yourself if you get caught up or forget. If you forget one day, then just be determined to recover for the next day.

  • Have one day (or more if you can allow) to dedicate to self care

However self care looks to you, make sure to carve out time in this stressful season to spend quality time focusing on your needs. For me, I like to do self-care-Sundays, where I take an everything shower, do a face mask, and wear a really comfy outfit; I also like to listen to TEAL or YELLOW while I do all of this, and I like to set up my week planner in my comfy clothes on my couch. I plan what I can, and I build in time for the stuff that inevitably pops up during the week. I cook “real” dinners, where I do chipotle bacon cheese burgers or parmesan garlic chicken and pasta; cooking is something that brings me joy when I have the time to do it right. While eating lunch or dinner, I like to watch an episode or two of whatever show I am watching, which right now are Love is Blind, Masked Singer, and Roswell New Mexico. This self care time is all about what makes you happy.

  • Lean on family and friends for support

Family and friends are your best resources, and don’t be afraid to tell them you need more support in this season. Study with friends and call or text your family at least once a week; reach out to the people you care about and just release your stress the best you can. Having a therapist is also helpful, and can be a great resource for you when you’re feeling overwhelmed or experiencing burnout.

Know that exams, projects, and assignments do not define who you are as a person, and that giving it your best is all that matters; the best advice that I can give you is to do whatever your best looks like on any given day and know that it is enough. You are enough. You can do this and end the semester strong!

Stephanie Roberts

U Mass Boston '25

☆ VA ☆ UK’23 B.A. English ΚΚΓ Beta Chi alumni UMB’25 M.A. English