What’s your strategy for finishing the semester?

It’s Spring Break, what better time to ramp up a strategy for completing the semester?

I love academic life and culture. It’s a culture full of seasons and milestone moments. Start of semester, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas break, and Graduation all mark key moments during the academic year. One week that often goes underutilized by is Spring Break.

Why?

At Spring Break, there is still hope for recovering from missteps during the first months of the semester and it’s the prime resting point to gather up strength and mount a strategy for finishing the semester well. Here are some tips for maximizing the rest of the academic year:

Make a plan. Print out a calendar from the many online calendars available, get out your class syllabi, and map out your plan for the last few weeks. If you have multiple deadlines and final projects looming, be sure to block out adequate time to research, write, review, and complete those assignments. Be realistic about your time and your expectations. Write down key deadlines and make sure that nothing catches you by surprise.

Build in time to recharge. You need time to rest, even if you are sprinting to the finish and have to play catch-up from letting things go during the first few months of the semester. Make sure you don’t mistake recreation for rest–recharging means you are refreshing your energy stores, not expending them.

Talk to your professors. Are you in trouble in a class? Talk to your professors about your plan, take their advice, and then follow through and execute your plan. If you have lost your chance to make up work that you didn’t complete earlier in the semester, do all you can to achieve the best mark you can. Demonstrate to your professor that you are following through with your plan and have not wasted their time.

Be grateful and get things in perspective. Remember that most people on the planet would cut off a hand to have the educational opportunity you have. Make the most of the opportunity you have before you.

Your learning is your responsibility. You’re a grown-up now–your education is no longer anyone else’s responsibility–it’s your’s. Take responsibility and do whatever it takes to learn. Think of your classes, even the ones that you hate, as a period in time in which you are able to dedicate a set amount of time to research a subject.

Maximize your learning in the courses you hate. Do you disagree with the very concept of the course that you are forced to take to complete your general ed or major requirements? Then take that course as an opportunity to develop an alternative methodology or viewpoint. Research and articulate alternative theories on the subject including alternatives to your own predispositions–you may be wrong or have a shallow, one-sided perspective. Education is an opportunity for you to expand your perspective.

Talk to other students in your classes. Ask others about their a-ha moments in the class. Dig deeper and discuss what you agree and disagree about in your class.

Finally, have the courage to care. Caring is difficult in our culture. Choosing not to care (yes, you are making a choice) is the cowardly move. It takes courage to care about yourself and your learning. Care about the work that you’re doing during these last few weeks of the semester. If you do, you will have something to show for at the end of the semester, no matter what your grades are.

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