Tuesday, March 29, 2016

End of the Semester Prep


Spring break has long been over (or at least, that's how it feels). Mid-term grades have been poured over. Self-amends have been made. You know what that means? The end of the semester is near.

My grandpa asked me on Sunday how much more time I had left in the semester and I nearly said "too much" until I realized that it really wasn't that much. I have six weeks of regular classes left and then one week for finals. What? WHAT? Where has this semester gone? How are there only six weeks left? How is April almost here? I am constantly mind-blown by how fast time flies during the semester.

It hit me a bit prematurely this semester because I had this huge realization last week that I had so many projects and assignments due next week that I hadn't started yet. So, I whipped out my agenda, all of my syllabi and marked up my calendars so I would not miss a single deadline or come up on one unprepared. If you haven't been hit with the end of the semester rush, good for you. Or perhaps...maybe you should get ahead of yourself and start preparing early.

The end of the semester is always a mess of a few things: final exams, final assignments, catching up on outstanding work (if you have any) and just trying to tie up loose ends with classes and prepare for next semester (if you're not graduating). Call me over prepared or call me crazy, but I don't think that it's too soon to start at least thinking about how the end of the semester is going to go. Being prepared just makes things easier on yourself when the time to buckle down finally comes around. You'll be able to go into the home stretch of the end of the semester with at least somewhat of a roadmap or guideline to get you through finals week and out into summer break.

There are a few simple things that you can do to get yourself prepared for the end of the semester. I'm not saying you have to start all of your projects or start studying for finals at this moment. But perhaps thinking a little bit ahead wouldn't hurt you at all!

1. Reread all of your syllabi. Check them out for due dates or the day of your final exam. Read them carefully to look for any rubrics for projects or any information about the set-up of your exam. Look for grading scales and any other information that might be pertinent to whatever your final assignments(s) are for that class and the professor's expectations.

2. Write down dates. I mention this in pretty much all of my college posts, but I do not think I can stress enough how important it is to write down important dates. Put them in your phone's calendar, keep them on a sticky note on your wall, write them down in your agenda, wherever you think you'll be able to find the dates and remember them. There's nothing worse than thinking you have more time to do something and then discovering that you only have two days to write an entire paper or create a presentation. And the last thing that you want to do is to not show up to your final exam because you forgot what day it was on. Yikes.

3. Start toying around with outlines. This one all depends on the thoroughness of your syllabi and what you've already done in your classes. I know I have a group project at the end of the semester in one of my classes and a long essay for another, but neither of the topics have been assigned or touched upon, so I can't really start outlining those two projects. On the other hand, I do have the topics for a couple of my upcoming assignments and while they're not totally at the end of the semester, they're still pushing it close! I just sat down last night and outlined what I wanted to do for each in my little notebook and it completely lifted a weight off of my shoulders. Outlining is just half of the struggle sometimes, I swear.

4. Remind yourself that you still have time. At six weeks, there is not a huge rush to get things done. But the five to six week mark is always my favorite to start planning ahead because when the time comes to put the finishing touches on final projects or the final rounds of studying come about, I feel infinitely more prepared, like I didn't wait until the last minute and decide to just wing everything. It calms me down when I start preparing for the end of the semester early because it gives me less of a chance by being blindsided by something down the line that could have the potential to completely derail me and my focus if I wasn't prepared.

When does your semester end?

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