I was sitting in the LRT listening to a couple first years discuss how discouraging and challenging their first semester of university has been. I knew exactly how they were feeling, and I’m grateful to now be past that point in my life. Ranging from long days of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to feeling overwhelmed through the endless midterms and flurry of assignments, I want the first years to know that we have all been there. I know that with finals approaching, we are all a little burnt out from the semester and the stress is so real as our 70 per cent cumulative finals loom over us. As a seasoned university student at this point, let me share some of my study hacks:
- Make a study schedule
In my first year of university, I always felt there was not enough time to study all the content that was thrown at us. During finals, I would always feel overwhelmed and haphazardly try to study everything all at once. My notes would be all over the place and I felt so unprepared for each final I wrote. However, I realized that by creating a study schedule, the workload was actually quite manageable if I focused and used my time effectively. Without classes, a study schedule allows for some continued structure, as there is still one last push till the semester is finally over.
- Find out what works for you
I always envisioned myself as the sort of student who would stay at school after classes and complete my homework in the silent section of the library. As it turns out, I hate staying after classes and I cannot for the life of me study in the silent section in the library. For me, if I want to complete assignments and do light studying, I can study at school with friends, but when I want to hard-core study and focus, I need to be in the comfort of my own home. I know some people that can only focus in a study room in ECHA or others that need to be in the basement Cameron on school computer to do their best. It’s all about finding out what environment allows you to focus and study. There are no hard and fast rules and it varies from individual to individual.
- Your health still matters!
As the semester progresses, I always find myself slipping a little bit in terms of taking care of my health. I find myself skipping workouts, choosing McDonalds, and sacrificing sleep in order to study so this is advice that I need to follow as well. Finals are probably the easiest time to let your health slip to the wayside and also probably the worst time to do so. Try to stay away from drinking insane amounts of coffee, binge-eating gummies, or hitting up fast food joints for every meal. Creating a messed up sleep schedule or being lethargic and tired is probably not the best during exams. You want to feel your best and be alert for each exam. I actually do know someone who tried to pull an all-nighter and then ended up sleeping through her final. It’s not worth it. Study breaks are also essential. Never feel guilty about taking a couple hours in the day to go for a walk with a friend or treating yourself to Starbucks. It is tiring to have to memorize and learn so much at once, and there is nothing wrong with giving your mind a short break to unwind.
Last year, I had a professor who would email us before every exam telling us that life is full of ups and downs but that we get through our challenges and end up okay. I agree completely. My sister failed Math in her first year and now she is a doctor. My C- in Econ 101 made me feel like my world was ending. But it has had zero impact on my life today. If you found this semester challenging, you now know what to change to make next semester a success. Hopefully, you found my study tips helpful and good luck on finals this semester!