By Allison Jewell

The first day back from Thanksgiving break can feel more overwhelming than most. While you were stuffing yourself silly next to all of your family and friends, the agonizing weight of the semester’s closure and the finals that accompany it usually catches up to you. Now, panic starts to set in as you realize there are only two weeks between that final deadline and all the things you pushed off until after celebrating our nation’s glutinous holiday. 

If you have been in this situation, or are currently there, take a deep breath. There are strategies and tips you can use to help make sure you make it past finals as stress-free and productive as possible. In my four years of college, I have come to realize one very important thing when it comes to being prepared for finals: be proactive.

There have been countless times I showed up to an exam underprepared or I turned in a paper without proper edits. In hindsight, it all could have been avoided if I had taken the proper steps to set myself up for success when the credits started rolling on the semester. 

This is why I am offering the best advice I can to those who feel stuck, and possibly overburdened by the upcoming coursework for finals.

1. Keep in touch with your professors

I know you heard it from your teachers in high school —  “Your college professors aren’t going to hold your hand!”

While that may be true, it does not mean they want to see you fail. Keeping up with your professors and their expectations can build you a yellow brick road to the ‘A’ that is Emerald City. Showing kindness to your instructors and respecting their craft can open you up to more help and even some extra credit if you really deserve it. Before your final, have a meeting to discuss your shortcomings; a lot of professors on this campus would be happily inclined to lend a hand. It is their job!

2. Utilize online resources

I was a STEM major once, seemingly eons ago. Obviously not my forte, I struggled in math and science classes. No matter how much help I received from professors and tutors, nothing seemed to click.

It was not until I found a channel on YouTube that taught basic chemistry concepts that I finally began to get it. The internet has a plethora of options to seek out extra resources or just simply a new method of teaching a certain concept. This can be said for writing, humanities, economics, and pretty much any specialty under the sun. Exhaust your options before it is too late.

3. Give yourself a break

It may seem like the end of the world right now, but in between all the hardcore studying and drafting sessions, your brain will start to garner fatigue. Once a day, do something for yourself. Whether it’s exercising, reading a book, or watching your favorite show, you need to allow your body and brain to melt some of the stress away so that you don’t leave finals looking and feeling like you went to war.

4. No all-nighters

You heard me! Staying up all night to cram can negatively affect your score and can harm your thinking skills, mood, and physical health. Instead, maybe go to bed for the least amount of time possible you can, wake up early, and hit the books.

All-nighters are historically a college tradition, but they are not a healthy one. 

5. Write out your deadlines

Having a clear visual of your due dates and deadlines can help make things feel less overwhelming. Plan out when you want to work on things and try to space out as much time as possible to leave breathing room. Like I said before, be proactive. The sooner you get things done, the better. 

6. Do not wait until the last minute for anything

There are about two weeks left in the semester, which is plenty of time to sit down and address anything and everything that needs to be done before the semester closes. This means returning rented books, spending the rest of your flex points, and filling out applications for next semester. Crank it out before you regret it.

7. Forgive yourself

Things happen and mistakes are made. We are only human and beating ourselves up about things in the past will not help us out in the present. If you are worried about failing a class, talk to your professors and your advisor. But just remember, there can always be redemption in the next semester and forgiveness from yourself. We use these shortcomings to better ourselves, and if you are in a bad situation now, hopefully, it’s a kick in the butt to set you up for success next semester.

If no one has told you this yet, I believe in you! College is a place for learning and growing, and to not make mistakes would be missing out on the crucial experiences that shape us. 

Follow these tips, or make some of your own. Making sure your finals are as healthy and successful as possible is the main objective.