This post crafted for Y-O-U scholars by Casey at ForCollegeForLife.com. Enjoy!
At the beginning of the semester, I wrote an article urging students to “bottle that feeling”—to harness the enthusiasm and energy which accompanies the start of a new term. In it, I reminded new students that “your potential is limitless at this very moment. Your future, unlike any other time in your educational journey, is absolutely in your control.” I suggested there would be a time during this semester in which you would need to find the “bottle” and remember the euphoria you felt at that moment.
The time has arrived.
Midterm is likely the most stressful periods for all students. Exams are scheduled, papers are due and chapters needing to be read seem to go on forever. It is as if your Professors have coordinated an effort to make your life miserable for the next few weeks. There aren’t enough hours in the day. You begin to weigh the concepts of “done” and “perfect” and find that sometimes the latter is unattainable. This can be a lonely and humbling experience, especially for first semester students. Welcome to the “midterm wall.”
One of the tragic outcomes to this feeling of stress is mental paralysis. All too often students will shut down during midterm time, overcome by the mountains of work which lay before them. When there are a million things to prioritize, it is hard to determine which to tackle first.
Here are some tips to help you conquer the midterm wall:
1) Make a list. While it may seem that everything is due at once, making a chronological list of upcoming dates and events (exams, papers, speeches, etc.) can help you to organize your life more-effectively. What needs to be done today? How can you break down all of the reading that you must do before next week? Start with the “have to do’s” and then list the “nice to do’s.”
2) Seek help. If you have not yet already, this is the ideal time to visit campus resources dedicated to student success. Look for tutorial services, writing support and peer groups which might help you get over this hump. The best students are the ones who don’t isolate themselves, but rather take advantage of support.
3) Set reasonable expectations. This may be one of the first times in your academic journey where excellence is unobtainable. Think of this like triage—which of your classes/grades will survive with the minimum amount of attention? Which need the most? Are you able to survive a “B” on a paper in order to study for the exam you might otherwise bomb? Prioritize how you spend your time.
4) Don’t take shortcuts. This is obvious, but it must be said. The temptation to take shortcuts is highest during times of great stress. Don’t allow your academic career to be derailed by making bad choices. Colleges and universities have established, and often harsh, policies on cheating and plagiarism. (Need I say more?)
5) Reward yourself! Let’s be honest—college is HARD! You are juggling a million balls and working to ensure that none of them hit the ground. At appropriate times, you should stop and celebrate your accomplishments. Plan a get together with friends, buy a new pair of shoes or simply take a day to de-compress. These simple rewards will help you to refresh and prepare for your next challenges.
Above all, know you are not alone; all students face the midterm slump. The key is how you handle the stress and make the right choices to maximize your success. Now, stop reading this and get studying!