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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

Anyone else feeling like the weeks are flying by more than usual? Now in week 11 of classes, we’re so close to Thanksgiving break and, eventually, finals week. As much as I’d like to celebrate making it past the halfway mark and nearing the finish line, there’s still so much to do and plan for before getting buried in exams and term papers.

Being a senior in college, I’ve experienced the study grind for finals many o’ times, yet I didn’t start to get on top of it early until last semester. Usually, I would have reserved it until maybe the last five or six days before finals, which isn’t terrible considering I’m used to working under tight deadlines, but I could have done a lot better with my time management in the past. Before you go making the same mistakes as I did, I want to give you some advice on how you can use this month to get a head start and save yourself from additional stress this year.

Break Up Major Projects into Smaller Goals for Each Week

Larger projects that are given near the end of the semester as part of our final grade are still nerve-wracking for me, but I learned that getting on top of it at least 3 weeks before it’s due usually eases my anxiety. If you’re someone who’s usually nervous because you have no idea where to start with big assignments, I suggest that instead of thinking about it as one major project with multiple elements, break it up into small tasks you want to accomplish each week and mark it into a calendar as a tentative schedule. For example, you could plan the first week of an essay project to gathering sources on your topic and mark a small note sheet with ideas or questions that you want to talk about with a professor or peer. By breaking down the tasks, you’ll stay ahead to make any necessary changes as you continue your research without the stresses of an impending deadline and be able to work around your own schedule.

Implementing the Pomodoro Method for Long Writing/Study Sessions

I wish I had known about this study method when I was studying for my SAT test in high school! The Pomodoro method, created by Francesco Cirillo, works to break down large tasks into smaller intervals, such as study sessions or essay writing. Set the timer for 25 minutes and work until the timer’s up. Then, take a five-minute break—30 min. total = one Pomodoro. The more Pomodoros you complete, the longer your breaks become because you’ve earned them! I find this especially helpful as I have a difficult time focusing for long intervals, and this makes study/writing sessions feel less intense. As long as you can get yourself back to work after the break time is over, you’ll see how much you can accomplish within a short amount of time.

Plan to Meet with Your Professors At Least Once Before Finals

This might seem obvious, but if you’re busy juggling multiple assignments and other priorities outside of school, you may forget to speak to a professor to answer your questions and concerns regarding finals. Even if it feels too early for a conference, having time set aside with your professors that are giving out finals to go over necessary information regarding the assignment, grading rubric, or even topics you’re unclear of could save you lots of wasted energy worrying when the end of the semester is, slowly but surely, picking up speed. Your professor will appreciate you for showing that you care about the work you’re producing, and you’ll feel relieved that you made the effort to get help before it was too late.

The Power of Online Study Buddies

Now that all classes are online, making friends is even more difficult since we’re all hiding behind blank screens. However, you shouldn’t feel discouraged in reaching out to a few classmates to plan study sessions before a final exam or upcoming project on your syllabus. If your professor implements breakrooms into their lectures, this could be a good opportunity to ask your partners how they’re doing in the class and if they would benefit from having several online meetups to go over the material. Or, talk to your professor to see if they would hold an optional study group session for classmates that want to review the material together. It won’t be the same as meeting up at the library with a coffee in hand, but it will allow you a chance to socialize and absorb the information better with a friendly colleague or two.

I want to wish everyone a successful rest of the semester and an even more successful finals week! We’ll get through this.

Nikki Haslett

West Chester '21

Nikki Haslett is a West Chester University of PA alum and former Vice President for Her Campus at West Chester. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing and a minor in journalism, she is currently seeking out writing and editorial opportunities for digital/print news publications and magazines. Naturally, she's drawn towards creative outlets, whether it be beauty & fashion, writing, drawing, or working with multimedia tools for journalistic projects, such as podcasting and styling magazine layouts using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. As an aspiring journalist and editor, she is determined to use her natural interpersonal skills to make meaningful connections with individuals and bring unique stories to the forefront. Fun Fact: One of my bucket list goals is to write a complete, feature-length movie script and attend a Hollywood awards show.
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