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How to Fix This Semester’s Bad Habits Before Your Next Syllabus Week

Now that the semester is ending, and January coming, it’s a good time to make some goals for next semester. At the end of the semester and all of us cramming for finals, it’s normal to say, “I should have” “I wish I did this” and “next time I’ll…” Well, now it’s time to look at this last semester and make changes.

The fist thing to do is to look back on the semester and see if there is anything you want to change immediately. Did you lose most points on assignments? Did you never feel like you had any time to study? Did you feel completely overwhelmed by everything you had to do? Identify what was a problem this semester and try to find a new way to change this habit. Nothing changes if you don’t identify the actual problems. Identify things that you can change and make an actual effort to change it.

One common problem people face in the semester is they feel too overwhelmed by everything they have to do. Essays, projects, exams, quizzes, this can all be overwhelming but if you keep a schedule and understand everything you must do and when you have to do it, you can manage it better. A planner is a great way to do this. Each month look ahead at exams, essays, and projects you have due and write it down. After you have planned the month out go week by week, on Sunday night or Monday morning, look through Canvas and see if there’s anything you have to do that week, so you know before the day before. This way you can see everything written down, and you’ll be able to plan better so you don’t get wildly overwhelmed.

If you struggle studying, figure out what has worked for you and what didn’t. Think back to when you were studying for exams and think of study habits that worked…and things that got you distracted. If you keep reaching for your phone, getting distracted by notifications, or just get sucked in by a TV show; try putting your phone in a different room or turning it on do not disturb so you can focus on what’s in front of you. If you need music, download what you want to listen to and then put your phone on airplane mode so you don’t get notifications and can’t go on social media, but you still have the thing that helps you study. Phones are a huge distraction, but again, you must find what works for you so you can be productive.

Another thing to understand is how you study effectively. If you know you can’t study for long periods of time, give yourself plenty of days to study and take breaks; if you know you get distracted by your roommates, go to the library in one of the quiet areas so you limit distractions. A lot of people believe that because one study environment works for one person, it should work for everyone, but this is absolutely not true. If you like being social and can be productive in a group, the third floor of the library with a friend could work for you. If you are easily distracted, the silent study room in the library or one of the other quiet study areas might be your place of choice. If the campus stresses you out, try studying at a coffee shop or simply your apartment. Find out what works for you and do that, don’t worry about how others study.

A lot of people can’t find the motivation to get up and go to class. Going to class can be hard, but if you don’t, you miss participation points, notes and assignments, and any help you could get from the professor or TAs. This is an easy fix: simply wake up earlier. However, this can be a lot harder to implement than it seems to be. This may take a lot more effort and planning than you think. The best thing to do is plan backwards: figure out when class starts, when do you have to leave, how long do you need to get ready, when you need to wake up, how much sleep you want to get, and then when you need to get to bed. This won’t always fix the problem. There will be days when class just isn’t an option, but this will help you get there more often than not.

As much as you don’t want to admit it, there were some rough parts of this semester. Next semester can be better, but it will take some effort and realization of what you have to change. Good luck and Happy New Year!

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Rebecca is a sophomore finishing her last year of prerequisite courses before starting the nursing program. She works at an oral surgeon's office as a surgical assistant and receptionist.
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