It’s getting to that time of year again! No, not Valentine’s Day. No, not ‘almost spring.’ No, not even just February. It’s MIDTERM time! The time of the semester when all your work seems to be due in the same week, sleep is scarce, and you know you still have weeks and weeks to go before a real break comes along.
It’s not horrible. But, it’s not my favorite part of the semester. Honestly, I love finals week. There’s something about knowing that just one test, speech or project stands between you and the door out of that class, forever. Plus, there just seems to be built-in relaxation time during finals week. Not so for midterms. They are often cumulative – meaning lots of information to study, including the stuff from the first few weeks of school that you thought wasn’t important. Also, there is no freeing “light at the end of the tunnel” for midterms; once you finish them, you are thrown right back into classes, and you start gearing up for your finals. And, because it’s like a regular school week, there is little relaxation time, if any.
So, what’s a girl (or guy!) to do when midterms come in like a wrecking ball? (Pop-culture references are fun.)
1. Write down when all your assignments are due. Even if you’re not the type of person to carry a planner everywhere (I’m not), you can still become best friends with the sticky note. It helps relieve stress to know that you won’t be forgetting to do anything, and by writing things down and sticking them to your desk, mirror, etc. you get a daily reminder. Plus, I think one of the best feelings in the world is ripping up a sticky note once I’ve completed all the tasks on it.
2. Give yourself time to finish assignments and studying. It may seem like you’ll be able to thoroughly read through all your notes and worksheets for two tests in just an hour the night before, but chances are – you will not. Who wants to stay up ’til 4 a.m. reading about the Mycenaeans and Minoans? I surely don’t.
3. Remember to eat. This may seem simple, but it’s easy to get so busy that you don’t have time to run to a dining hall. Your body NEEDS fuel to keep thinking straight! Make it a point to swing by Regatta’s or Commons and grab a take-out box; there’s also Chick-fil-A and Discovery Pizza (two of my personal favorites) in the David Student Union.
4. Exercise! Nothing beats down the stress like some physical activity. After sitting and studying for hours on end, it is so refreshing to get your body moving. Whether that means indoors in the Freeman Center or outside on nearby the Noland Trail, take a break from homework and exercise! Personally, I love running in the neighborhoods behind CNU; there’s little-to-no traffic and you can see the James River from some points.
5. Sleep. Please, please, please, if you only take away one piece of advice from this post, let it be this point. It is very difficult to be mentally present and prepared in class when you have been living off four hours of sleep each night for a week (trust me, I know). And, it’s not easy to study and retain information when you’re exhausted. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel decently rested in the mornings, and take advantage of the weekends for catching up on your snooze time! Remember, there is absolutely no shame in sleeping in; it’s truly a wonderful thing.
There is a ton more advice I could give you, but these few ideas will certainly help you start off on the right foot. Midterms are a pain, but once they’re done, it’s basically downhill from there! And, that is a great feeling.