5 Ways to Finish the Semester off Strong

It’s hard to believe we only have a month left until our fall academic semester is over, considering we’ve only had about a month and a half of classes (thanks Florence). As the end of every semester approaches, it’s always tempting to give up on working hard and pursuing excellence.

It sounds especially appealing after our semester at UNCW has basically been flipped upside down and backwards to just say, “Welp…guess I’ll try again next semester.” Don’t worry, more people are thinking this than you might assume and you’re not a “bad student” for feeling this way.

Nevertheless, we should not lose heart. There’s still a lot of good that can be done before this semester is over. Take a few of these tips into consideration before you decide to throw in the towel (and then maybe…don't do that).


1. Pace out your academic responsibilities

Obviously, this is advice normally offered at the beginning of the semester but let’s be real: most of us don’t heed to it well.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll start the semester off strong, putting all the important dates for each of your classes in your planner and then blocking out time each day or each week to get them done, spreading them out evenly so you’re not cramming to the point of having nightly breakdowns.

This works great for about 3 weeks. You start getting spontaneous invites from friends to go out to eat, take a trip to the beach in the middle of the day, or even just to chill at their place for a few hours. Naturally, you can’t say no so you sacrifice the time you carved out in your schedule to study and give it over to quality time with friends.



Now is the time to get back on track because, at this rate, you’re going to pass out before you reach the finish line. Take a day or two (or however long you need) to get up to speed on all responsibilities for all classes. Finish the papers, study for the exams, complete the projects. Then get back to pacing those responsibilities well throughout the week and DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR PRECIOUS STUDY TIME! End-of-semester you will be so grateful.


2. Take advantage of every extra credit opportunity available.

Professors who offer extra credit in their classes are a precious gift to humanity. Even if you’re currently doing well in classes which offer that opportunity, take advantage anyway because absolutely anything could happen in the next month. Maybe you’re not slacking right now but as we get deeper into November, you may run out of gas. That extra credit you do now may afford you some extra grace mileage.

Of course, we all probably have those professors who are vehemently against extra credit in any capacity. They even make it seem like they might fail you for simply asking. This might sound crazy but, ask anyway.

They can’t legally penalize you for asking such a question so don’t be afraid of that. However, you have not because you ask not. You might be surprised at how many professors will show you a little favor, especially if they’ve seen your face in class every day and you’re fairly attentive.


3. Go to your professors for help and/or find a tutor for classes you’re struggling in.

This is probably another one of those pieces of advice normally offered at the kick-off of the semester. However, it’s never too late to ask for help.

We are such a self-help generation of college students. For some reason, we just refuse to reach out for help until the sky starts falling and the earth starts shaking, but it’s not too late to be proactive.

By mid-semester, you’ve started cramming for assignments, tests, quizzes, projects, etc. to the point of having nightly breakdowns (hmmm, wonder how that happened). You’re getting a total of 15 hours of sleep weekly – 20 on a good week – you’re forgetting to eat dinner, and you’re still barely making those deadlines.



You may feel like you know nothing about anything in one (or a few, no judgment here) of your classes. If you just reach out to your professor or the tutoring center on campus, you might actually discover there’s only a couple of concepts you need re-explained.


4. Don’t stop showing up to class.



This is probably the biggest temptation we all face at this point of the semester. Don’t assume your professor won’t be taking attendance the days you decide to skip. More often than not, the very day you don’t show up is the day they pass around the attendance sheet or give a pop quiz that’s worth 20% of your overall grade.

This is extra tempting in those classes where the professor basically reads from the PowerPoint presentation and just lectures for the entire class with no interaction or tactile ways of learning the material. Still go to those classes. You never know what kind of valuable information you miss on the one day you decide to skip.


5. Leave the library and get some sleep, for once!

I’ll spare you the whole “importance of mental and physical health” sermon because you’ve probably heard it more than once by this point. I’ll just suggest that maybe this week you need to focus more on catching up on a month’s worth of sleep instead of trying to cram in a month’s worth of work. Maybe you need to leave the library at 9 PM instead of 2 AM so that you can actually get a full, healthy night’s rest. Maybe you need to leave your squad functions a little early so you can have enough time to finish your assignments and get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

There’s no denying that this semester has been unexpectedly rough for all Seahawks of the Dub. We lost an entire month of classes and nothing about this fall has been normal. You are not alone in your struggles and you are not a horrible student if you’ve fallen off the wagon.

Stay strong, don’t lose heart and finish the race!   

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