How To Avoid A Finals Week Freakout

Looking at your college friends’ Facebook and Twitter accounts might give you the impression that finals week is the most traumatizing experience of their lives.

It doesn’t have to be that way for you. Like everything else in college, the best way to avoid a finals week mental breakdown is by preparing early.

And by early, I mean when you are scheduling classes for the semester. Try to make your schedule so that you don’t have an 8 a.m. class everyday because you will likely want to sleep in once a week and skip that class.

Don’t Skip Class

That last point transitions nicely into my next: don’t skip classDuring my fall semester of freshman year, I had an 8 a.m. psychology class that I skipped 10 consecutive times. I was so far behind that I had to hunker down in my dorm and study for 17 hours for the final. (I somehow finished with a decent 86 percent in the class.)

Take Advantage of Syllabus Week

Continuing with my “plan early” mantra, I advise you to take advantage of “syllabus week” — the first week of classes of the semester.

Everyone thinks of this as a blow-off week, during which they are free to go out and party every night. Instead, take one night off to actually read through your syllabuses so you have a feel for when your exams will be.

Take the dates and times and put them on your calendar (on your computer, phone, etc.).

A journalism professor taught me a valuable lesson: “90 percent of reporting is showing up; the other 10 percent is sticking around.”

Be Attentive

So while showing up to class will be extremely helpful, it will also be helpful to stick around and be attentive.

That means taking good notes. I prefer using my computer for quick note taking, but there’s nothing wrong with a good old notebook.

When exam time rolls around and your classmates are struggling to hastily throw together a study guide, you’ll already have a complete study guide in front of you. All you have to do is read through it and highlight (or boldface) the important points.

Every time I take a class with friends, they beg me to let them use my study guide. (That’s why I don’t like to take classes with friends.)

Prepare a Study Schedule

Finally, when finals week does arrive, prepare a study schedule for yourself. Make sure you schedule in enough sleep too.

I see people’s Facebook statuses all the time during finals week about how they’re basically sleepwalking through their days, and I wonder, “Why?”

I always make sure I get all my studying done by 1 or 2 a.m. so that I can still get an absolute minimum of 6 or 7 hours of sleep. When you keep studying while you’re exhausted, you’re just going to forget the information.

I find that I actually remember the information much more clearly if I sleep immediately after studying.

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John Edwards

John Edwards

John Edwards is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is pursuing a journalism degree. Currently studying abroad in Rome, he can usually be found hanging out and studying at his fraternity. He also enjoys running and spending time with family and friends.
John Edwards

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