Finally: Tips for Finishing the Semester Strong

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Twinkling overhead, the lights in my dorm remind me of a coffee shop. Rolling out of bed an hour before class, I pick out a dress for work. My roommate lets me borrow her lipstick, the shimmering one from the mall. A text arrives from my mom, with encouragement for the day. Airy sunlight streams into the room. I want to dance my way to class. It’s Freshman year.

I haven’t turned the sparkly dorm lights on in days. Twenty-five pieces of clothes litter the floor. That sock doesn’t even belong to me. Red lipstick smeared all over my favorite, grey sweater. Twenty-nine old text messages are left unanswered. (I’ll just respond here to those: I’m so sorry about not getting back to you.) While peacefully reading in the library, I’m asked about a psychology quiz. “I forgot about that!” I scream. Chilled to the bone, I dash to my dorm to find my psychology notebook. The cold is unbearable. I tear up from shrill, windy chill. It’s not Freshman year. I don’t know what year it is.

Every semester, college kids sign up for classes. Every year they remember there will be a finals week. Yet when finals season crashes in, it’s like an un-forecasted tsunami hits humanity. Perhaps we can’t escape the devastation, but we can prepare. Here’s how to brave the storm.

 

1. “No!”

I thrive on “Yes.” The semester I was the busiest was the semester I achieved my highest GPA. My advisor told me the trouble with my swollen schedule is that no one can endure intense pressure for that long. I did it, but could I do it again?

Say “No,” to extra responsibilities. Say “No,” to time-wasting distractions. Say “No,” to exciting things. Opportunities worth your time will probably still be there the week after finals. Make a list of all the obligations you have; then eliminate at least two, leading up to finals. Arrange for someone to sub for the art class you teach, take your retail shift, or work in the church nursery. Finals is the time to be a “quitter” elsewhere so you can be a “winner” scholastically.

 

2. Lists!

When you’re on your seventh cup of coffee and your third day without sleep, your memory isn’t going to be at the “Jeopardy” level. Sunday night, write out every assignment, every reading requirement, and every test you have due for the upcoming week. Doing this alone accounts for at least half the “As” I’ve earned this semester.

 

3. Christmas Music!

“No Christmas music before Thanksgiving.” That’s been the rule I was raised to follow, but there is an exception to this. Whenever I’m mourning over an exegetical analysis or trapped in a painful paper, I listen to Christmas music. There’s an album by Pentatonix I adore. It makes homework bearable, calming my “procrastination anxiety” instantly.

 

4. Eat Up!

 Listen to the 5th-grade Instagrammer. Stay hydrated. During finals, eating at all is good, but eating well is better. Be better. I don’t care if gluten-stuffed carbs are your favorite food, eat some lettuce for once. Let's move on, college kids...

 

5. Prepare for the worst!

Strive to have a confident grasp on your subject material throughout the school year. Don’t cram. However, if finals week comes and you’re not prepared, use these tips to cram well: For instance, try copying study guides with a pen you like (colored, calligraphy, glitter, etc.). In memorization, use hand motions to represent each word in a definition; it triggers recall (this works for Bible verses too). Outline your papers before you try vomiting up words. When you finish a report, and you don’t want to read through it, have the “read aloud” feature on your laptop help you catch any errors.  Review test terms through study apps. Record your lessons and listen to them. Try cramming with your nerd friend!

 

6. Sleep!

I’m writing this at 1 a.m. Try not to be like me.

 

7. Worship through Homework

Finals week is terrifying. Don’t give in to the temptation to plagiarize, go against your professor’s instructions, or glance at the exam on the desk to your left. No consequence that comes due to academic under-preparation will outweigh a cheater’s weighted conscience. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit to cheat (Ephesians 4:30) all because you liked Netflix earlier in the semester. Darling, joy isn’t found in cheating.

Instead, beg the Holy Spirit to fill you daily as you study. Opening my textbook to another dull chapter, I felt the urge to slip it aside. Instead, I prayed. You can ask the Lord to be with you while you read. Dedicate the next hour assigned to research on the current events to God, asking him to give you a heart for those involved in the news. Know the world around you so you can impact it.

 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for human masters,” - Colossians 3:23.

Ireland Kost // @little.island  


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A junior at Columbia International University, Ireland E. Kost is double majoring in Teacher Education and Bible with a minor in Music. When she isn't studying, you might catch her dancing, drawing, sipping chai tea, or writing short stories (past midnight) for everyone. Professionally, Ireland works in the admissions office at CIU, promoting her school, planning events, and recruiting students. She is thrilled to be writing as a Delight blog contributor this season while developing as an author. Additionally, Ireland choregraphs and teachers ballet for children. She's a native of sunny Columbia, South Carolina.