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February 16, 2024

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Middle semester advice for handling stress and grades

We’re right in the middle of the semester and things are really starting to pick up for a lot of people.

As someone with papers, exams and projects coming up for six classes, as well as a handful of student organizations and a job, I get it. There are people out there with busier schedules than mine though, and I am so impressed by them.

The middle of the semester, especially spring semester, can get pretty overwhelming. Most of us are excited for summer, or at least for the break, and find the motivation to do our best in school depressingly absent. So, here are some tips to make it through the rest of the semester.

First, what personally works best for me, is to set small, extremely achievable personal goals for each day. Examples include “write two-pages of this paper.” “Finish the lab report.” “Clear your inbox.”

If I write them down I know I can check back to see what needs to be done and when it needs to be done and it feels good to check it off. Don’t try to do everything at once, you’ll only get overwhelmed. Split up the work into smaller, much less daunting parts and it’ll be easier to get it done.

This should go without saying, but staying healthy and getting enough sleep is something college students seem to give up first.

Pulling all-nighters, while maybe necessary every once in a while, should be avoided at all costs. You will feel awful and your work won’t be great. Don’t let yourself believe the lie that giving up one night of sleep won’t affect you too much, because it will.  Not sleeping will only make your busy week harder to manage.

Procrastination is a huge problem for me, and sometimes I feel like my best work comes when I’m on a deadline. But sometimes operating this way just isn’t possible. Your work won’t be your best when you actually don’t have time to get it done. So, my next tip is – don’t wait.

If you have a paper you can do in a night due next week, but you also have two exams and a project due next week, start your paper now. Or, start studying now.

Just get something done in advance, so you aren’t drowning in work later.

If you find it hard to stay motivated, it can help to do things in small amounts and frequently take short breaks so you don’t get too bored or overwhelmed.

While I’m mentioning breaks, don’t be afraid to reward yourself for good work. Trying to keep up with everything is hard, and if you take a break and do something you like, whether it be watching something on Netflix or grabbing a treat. Don’t feel guilty about rewarding yourself for something that’s earned, and if you made or finished something to the best of your ability, while doing 10 other projects, then you deserve a reward.

Lastly, if a project, paper or exam doesn’t come out exactly as you hoped, it’s okay. You will come back from a bad grade. Don’t put your entire life on the shoulders of one paper, because it’s a stressor you don’t need and your life won’t depend on that one grade.

Good luck with the rest of the semester!

Reply to Meredith at

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