We all know that week… The hectic stretch of days towards the middle of the semester when it seems like all of your midterms happen and assignments are due, all at the same time! Sometimes this dreaded time even lasts for two or three weeks, and seems impossible to escape. It can be tiring and discouraging, but I can assure you that it does get easier with time and experience. As a fellow student in my fifth year at SMU, I’ve gathered some helpful strategies, tips, and tricks over the years! As an academic peer mentor for the new SMARTS Advantage Program, I work with other experienced students to offer workshops, individual mentoring, and more. Hopefully some of the information I’ve gathered and shared can be helpful to you during this stressful time!
A good place to start is to make a study and assignment schedule, and try to stick to it. Set achievable goals to keep you on track, so that you don’t start to feel panicked or like you’re falling behind. When you study, take plenty of breaks! Even when things aren’t going well or aren’t going according to schedule, it’s okay to take a rest and seek out a change of pace. Don’t get discouraged if you are struggling or if something is taking longer than expected. You can always try moving on to something else, or take some time for your mind to process what you are learning. It’s also a great idea to switch up your study strategy and try out some alternative methods, maybe using pictures, colour, thought webs, flash cards, or even a tactile approach. Check out a different study spot than where you usually go, such as a coffee shop, or outside if the weather permits! Aim to keep yourself healthy by getting a good night’s sleep every night, eating healthy, and finding some time for your favourite forms of exercise as well. Don’t leave out time to yourself and time to relax. Self-care is important! On a similar note, you don’t have to skimp on time with, and support from, family and friends. Stick together, and you can often gain relevant information that you might have missed on your own, as well as fresh perspectives from different people. Studying with your friends can be extremely helpful, and also often a lot more fun than studying alone! Even simply working side by side with a friend can help with motivation and boredom.
Finally, there are lots of amazing resources on campus which can help you with a variety of concerns. The Writing Centre can help you perfect your language, writing, editing, and citation skills. Meanwhile, academic peer mentors such as myself are always happy to meet with you one on one, along with tutors that can be matched with you through SMUSA. Don’t be afraid to visit your TA or professor during office hours. While they might seem intimidating, they want you to succeed, and are often very pleased to see students take the initiative. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or down, and need somebody to talk to, peer supporters on campus are also always happy to chat with you, or you can schedule an appointment with the Counselling Centre.
Though making it through the toughest parts of the semester can seem like a huge challenge, you will figure out what works best faster than you think! I hope that some of my tips and tricks can be helpful to you along the way, and best of luck with your studies, and your careers at SMU!