With the semester winding down and final exams looming, some students find it difficult to stay focused. But devoting the necessary time to a course — even in these last few weeks of the semester — is essential to a successful outcome, according to Perimeter College math professor Andrea Hendricks.
“That sounds like an easy task until you try to put it in practice,” Hendricks says. “How do we manage the 168 hours in a week that we each have to be productive and successful in our coursework? It really comes down to managing ourselves so that we set ourselves up for success.”
The following are 10 tips from Hendricks for a strong finish to the semester:
- Treat your coursework like a job. Show up to class on time, every time, and do the required work. Think of your instructor as your supervisor. If you do not do the work or do not show up on time, your evaluation will not be great. These same bad habits can negatively affect your grade in a course.
- Study time is not optional. You must build in the appropriate study time in your schedule to be successful in your courses. A rule of thumb is one or two hours of weekly study time per class. This will vary depending on your background and proficiency with the material. The key is to spend time each day reviewing the material you learned in class. Intentional and deliberate practice interrupts the forgetting process so that you can retain the information.
- Take care of yourself – get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and so on. If you are stressed, tired, or sick, you are not going to be able to attend to the tasks that need to be completed.
- Avoid time sinks – social media, video games, binge-watching shows. Set time limits on these activities. Use apps such as Cold Turkey or RescueTime that can increase your productivity.
- Apply the Pomodoro Technique when you study. Divide your study time into 25-minute segments, each followed by a 5-minute break. Repeat this four times. Then take a 30-minute break if needed.
- Focus on getting started. It is easy to get overwhelmed with what you need to accomplish. Rather than thinking of all the work that is required to get to the end, start by completing one part of it. Before you know it, the task will be completed.
- Create a daily schedule with all your commitments. Record these in an electronic calendar and set up appropriate notifications so you will not miss important dates. Take time to reflect on your schedule so you are aware of upcoming assignments.
- Give yourself permission to say no to things that will interfere with your college courses and study time.
- Wherever you are, be there. When you are in class, devote your full attention to the course.
- Do not procrastinate. Keep up with assignments, and start working on projects and papers when first assigned. Procrastinating only leads to more stress in the end.