Finals Week Survival Guide

I’ve already experienced six finals weeks in the course of my college career, but they somehow still manage to take me by surprise. Time management is a crucial skill to have as a college student, one that I have yet to truly master for myself. Procrastination is simply too tempting…

But you don’t have to observe my bad habits! There are plenty of ways to strategize your final projects and exams so that you’re not stressed trying to complete everything at the last minute. And if you are finding yourself in that position, there are ways to combat stress and take care of yourself. Here’s a list of helpful tricks for getting through finals!

1. Set Goals and Expectations

Planning is an underappreciated tool for success. You’ll be surprised how far a little bit of foresight will get you in life. If you’re not already keeping track of assignments in some kind of schedule or planner, now is the best time to start. Make a list of every final you have for each of your classes and when each of them is due. Once you have this schedule in place, plan out what course of action you will need to take to finish each assignment; do you need to gather research sources for a paper, study vocabulary terms for an exam, meet with your professor to discuss a project? What do you anticipate taking more time, is there a class that you struggle with? Prioritize and give extra time to those assignments. Having a list of actions helps you better organize and manage your time (and it helps you feel not so overwhelmed!).

2. Take Advantage of Resources

Go to the library! DePaul’s library is full of super smart and super helpful people who can assist you in a wide range of topics. They will help you find sources, give you good research prompts, and answer questions you might have about a certain subject from class. The library is truly an invaluable resource when it comes to doing research projects. You should also take advantage of the Writing Center. Not only does the Writing center edit essays, but they also help brainstorm projects and review non-essay work like scripts and PowerPoint. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors, either!

3. Take Care of Your Body

Your brain is not your only organ, nor is it independent from the rest of your body. You should take care of yourself during this high-stress period of the quarter. Stress manifests physically in fatigue, aching, headaches, nausea, etc. It is thus more important than ever that you get adequate sleep and nourishment during this time. Give yourself breaks to eat, take a nap, or just breathe. Drink plenty of water! Maybe try meditating, whatever you feel with put you most in tune with your body. Don’t let studying come at the expense of your physical health; your body will not be forgiving.

4. Prioritize Progress over Perfection

Be gracious with yourself. College is not an exhibition of perfection, it’s a learning experience. You will inevitably encounter difficulties and you will grow from them. That’s why you’re here! Perfection is an impossible standard and in aiming for it you might lose the nuances of this entire experience. Don’t be afraid of mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not knowing something is the first step to learning, after all.

5. Reward Yourself

Find the light at the end of the tunnel and aim for it. Give yourself something to look forward to, even if it’s as minor as a walk outdoors or a nap. Exam after exam can be disheartening and overwhelming, but having an incentive tends to make it more bearable. Maybe schedule an event with friends to celebrate the end of Finals Week. If you enjoy cooking, maybe make a favorite meal (or order one of your favorite meals to your house). Treat yourself! You deserve it! Nothing feels quite as satisfying as a moment of respite after a week of endless studying and writing. Relish in it and look forward to it and you plow through Finals.

Hopefully, these tips prove successful. Maybe I’ll even implement them myself (no promises, though). Best of luck to everyone this Finals Week! We’ve got this!

If you are feeling particularly stressed, overwhelmed, or would like someone to talk to, please remember that your Honors staff is always here to listen and help. For a complete list of DePaul Mental Health Resources, please visit here.

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