Student Success Strategy #74: Gearing up for Finals!

The semester is about two-thirds done by now, and you are feeling the post-midterm slump.  You have lost some of your motivation and excitement from classes, even those within your areas of interest.  Don’t stop now!

Even if you are happy with your progress throughout the semester, and your grades so far, you need to find a way to gear up for finals.

This is a great time to refine your study habits.

Have you been keeping up with all your assignments?  Make it a goal to finish those in the next few weeks two days early, and use the two extra days to review material from the first weeks of class.

Have you been taking great notes?  After reviewing them in the evening after your class, take an extra ten minutes to review notes from the beginning of the semester, going through two or three class periods of notes each night.

Have you been studying alone?  Make arrangements for a session or two with a friend in the class, and see whether your early notes can be combined for even greater understanding.  Then discuss what is left of the semester and how to keep each other on track.

Having a study partner, whether you actually study together or just check in with each other, can help you maintain progress throughout the semester.  A simple question – “Did you finish your work yesterday?” – can remind you that even a single day lost may make a difference.  Letting each other know what you need to do, and including an early review of material long past, can set you up for easier times near finals week.

Learning, and remembering what you have learned, is easier with frequent repetition and review rather than cramming.  Start now, and you won’t have to stress over the approach of final exams.

Student Success Strategy #74:  Gear up for finals.  Do it early.  Do it easy.  

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Student Success Strategy #73: And finally, random advice!

A few last bits of advice from my students, who often wrote just one line of advice or information.

“Never underestimate the wrath of a roommate who didn’t get a date.”

“Homecoming events include lots of free stuff.”

“Go to the football games for the tailgate parties.  Then skip the games.”

“Carry an umbrella and a plastic bag with you to protect your books.”

“Carry your ID everywhere.”

“Your legs will stick to the chair if your shorts are too short.”

“If you find a parking space, never leave.”

“Offer to pay for some of the gas rather than driving your car.  The driver will appreciate it and you don’t risk having your car trashed.”

“Don’t leave a drunk friend alone, even if you have to leave the party early.”

“Bring lots of underwear and you can avoid laundry until Mom comes to visit.”

“Don’t drink things you don’t like.  If it’s something you need to ‘develop a taste for’ then either don’t drink it or admit you just want to get drunk.”

“Drinking games are more fun for the spectators than the drinkers.”

“Decide what you want your spring break to be.  If it’s a vacation, don’t take any books home with you.  If it’s a way to catch up or get ahead on assignments, don’t waste all your time sleeping or partying with your old friends.  If you want to do something completely different, look into the Alternative Spring Break volunteer programs.”

Student Success Strategy #73:  Listen to random advice from former students.  

Student Success Strategy #72: And Even More Advice from Students

Here is the third list from my students, who give advice based on what they wish they would have known, or what they learned in their first semester in college.  How much of this could pertain to you?

“You might get homesick, but don’t go home every weekend.  Get involved and make some new friends instead, and even your classes will seem better.”

“If you start getting depressed, see a counselor.  I went to one only because my roommate practically insisted I go.  She said she didn’t want to come into the room to a dead body or a freaked out zombie, and she was worried about me.  I was mad at her at first, but she was right.  I just needed to find out that a lot of other students feel like this too, and there are ways to deal with it.”

“If you want to be different, college is a great time to try on different personalities, but people in your high school and home life are going to run into people in your college life and you will be caught in your lies.  And don’t do anything you’ll be ashamed of because people will find out.”

“The easiest time to make new friends is in the first couple of weeks, when everyone is lost.  You can be stupid together and laugh about it later.  Even if you are shy, walk into things and introduce yourself to somebody.  It won’t always work out, but you may find someone who needs you to be a friend who isn’t a total psycho.  Then if there is a psycho who wants to be friends with you, you’ll have protection!”

Student Success Strategy #72:  Other students have survived.   You can experiment if you are smart about it.

Student Success Strategy #71: More Advice from Students

Here is more advice from my former students.   Some of them are very personal with what they share, and what their consequences were.

“Read your housing contract to see what happens if you break their rules.  I was thrown out of housing in the middle of my fall semester, but was obligated to pay for the entire contract anyway.  All I did was smoke a little weed in the room.  It didn’t hurt anyone.”

“If you are underage, don’t even hold a beer for anyone else.  The police saw me holding a red cup and busted me for underage drinking.  I’ve had beer before, but this time I was just holding it while a friend used the restroom.  I’m now on disciplinary probation and if I get caught doing anything wrong for the next year, I could be suspended from school.”

“If you’ve had a drink, don’t drive.  I got stopped for doing a rolling stop at the stop sign on campus, and they smelled alcohol.  Then I refused the breath test and my license was suspended.  My parents had to come pick up my car. ”

“Pizza every night tastes great, but if you’ve heard of the “Freshman 15″ don’t believe it.  You can gain 30 pounds in a semester if you aren’t careful.”

“Every party is not the best. party. ever. no matter what your friends say.  You’ve still got to study.  You’ve still got to get to class, even your morning classes.  Trying to learn chemistry with a hangover is impossible.  Just staying awake after two nights out is impossible.  I learned the hard way, with a 1.72 GPA.”

Student Success Strategy #71:  Listen to students who learned from their mistakes.  

Student Success Strategy #70: Advice from Students

I’ve collected some of the advice that my students wrote in one of their success assignments over the years.  This assignment asked them to write a letter to a high school senior, giving the advice they wish they would have received prior to coming to college.

“Don’t rely on one alarm clock.”

“Everything else seems urgent when you need to study.  It isn’t.”

“It costs a lot more than you planned for.  Buy used books or share a book with a friend in the same class.”

“Get involved early, but with only one or two clubs.”

“Sit in the front row and smile.  Introduce yourself to your professor.  Go to office hours.   This is not kissing up, but managing your image with someone who is going to give you a grade.”

“Don’t procrastinate.  Really.  Get things done as soon as they are assigned and you’ll avoid lots of stress.”

“Ask a lot of questions, even if you know the answers.  Your teacher will think you are paying attention.”

“Don’t believe every guy who says  he really likes you.  It’s not his brain talking.”

“Use your meal plan.  You can’t afford anything else.”

“Facebook is not your friend.”

Student Success Strategy #70:  Listen to other students for good advice.