9 Tips for Surviving Finals Week

 Don’t look now, but the fall semester is coming to a  close. The official final exam period starts next   Wednesday, December 5 and concludes the following  Tuesday, December 11.

 Whether this is your first experience with college finals or your last semester taking them, get ready! Final exams can play a critical role in your class grade, often counting for a greater percentage of the grade compared to midterms or other tests. Final grades determine your grade point average. And your GPA can affect plans to transfer to another college or even apply for jobs.

Check out these final exam preparation tips. The key components are effective time management, efficient study strategies and healthy habits!  

1. Check your final exam schedule

Finals are given at different times than when your classes meet. Be sure all of your exam times and locations are correctly marked on your calendar.

2. Divide and conquer your study time accordingly

Some students plan to spend equal amounts of time preparing for all of their finals. This might not be the best approach. Consider dividing your study time according to how difficult the test will be and how well you know the material. Allow more study time for a final that might be harder for you than others.

3. Know what material you’ll be tested on

Will the test cover the entire semester or only material since the midterm or last exam? Will questions come from lecture notes or the book? Figure out what material you’ll be tested on to help you plan your study time accordingly.

4. Rally your support network

Call on friends and family to help cook meals, tend to the kids, run errands or any other chores you usually do, freeing up more time to study.

5. Scale back your obligations

If you usually prepare the Sunday family meal, it’s okay to order take out this week. Do you have volunteer commitments? See if the volunteer group can spare you not being there until December 12. Many students hold part-time jobs while in school. If you haven’t already done so, consider talking to your boss about adjusting your work schedule during the upcoming week. Reducing or strategically scheduling your hours can do wonders for your final exam preparation and success.

6. Weigh study group options closely

Study groups become very popular during final exams. More people collectively cracking the books equals success, right? Not always. If you know you’ll study better by yourself, don’t give in to peer pressure. On the other hand, if you’d benefit from a study buddy group, make sure the buddies have a vested effort in the process. Now’s not the time to assume the always-present-group role of worker bee.   

7. Eat healthy and sleep well

This tip makes every “tips for final exams” list – and for good reason. Surviving on coffee and cat naps is ineffective. Don’t skip meals, eat healthy, energizing snacks, drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. 

8. Plan a smooth commute to campus

The day of your final exam isn’t the day to miss the bus, get stuck in traffic or have difficulty finding a parking space. Plan accordingly, even if doing so means arriving to campus early.

9. Don’t panic

You’ll always want “just one more day” to review “just one more chapter.” But once you’re sitting in the exam room don’t panic. You’ll experience ups and downs during the exam, moments when you know it all and times when the answer evaporates before you can write it down. Take deep breaths, answer questions fully, take time to review your answers and try your best.

Best of luck on your finals!



The myths – and realities – about choosing your major and career path

Course registration started last week, and Career Services counselors are seeing students with that panicked look in their eye. The opening statement for many counseling appointments? “I don’t know what I want to study.” Not knowing your program can cause stress when trying to register for courses. Thus, the panic! Sound familiar?

During most appointments, career counselors spend time talking about myths that can keep you from making career decisions. Below are seven ideas that you may agree with, followed by the realities to put you at ease.

Myth #1: “Everyone else knows what they want to do. Something’s wrong with me.”

Reality: Career clarity is often overstated. Many of your classmates are still deciding their career paths. And the students who say they know what they want to do have likely changed their mind several times.

Myth #2: “I need to find the one career for me.”

Reality: “A-ha” career decision moments are rarer than many people think. Factors that determine career satisfaction aren’t linked to only one career. For example, the desire to help people can be achieved through teaching, counseling and a variety of other jobs. Trying to focus on the one career leads to frustration.

Myth #3:  “What I study now determines my career path forever.”

Reality: What you study suggests career options right now. Students in the dental hygienist program want to work in that field; but, they may be in a different field in 20 years.

Many students are paralyzed by the belief that career decisions they make today are set in stone forever. Nope. Do you still enjoy the exact same things that interested you 10 years ago? Don’t worry about making precise predictions for 10, 20 or 30 years from now. Your interests, skills and experiences change as you grow and take on different life roles.

As far as academic majors being directly connected to career paths, ask Michael Eisner about that! The former CEO of Disney studied English and theater in college – and never took one business course.  

Myth #4: “There’s a career test that can tell me what program to study and what career to pursue.”

Reality: Career Services offers self-assessment surveys that provide insight and information about your interests and preferences as they relate to general occupational fields. The information is helpful. But only you can determine what direction to take.

Myth #5: “More information will help me decide.”

Reality: Don’t confuse research with reluctance. Many people keep researching careers and programs waiting for the a-ha moment that might never come (see Myth #2). Research is good, but eventually you’ll have to make a decision based on the information you’ve gathered. If after doing extensive research you still can’t make a decision, it’s time to figure out why.

Myth #6: “If I change careers, my education and skills go to waste.”

Reality: Once you earn a degree it’s yours to keep, as well as the skills you develop along the way. Earning a college degree opens more doors. You may find yourself using your skills in a different way, but don’t confuse different with wasteful.

Myth #7: “I need to choose a profession where many job opportunities exist.”

Reality: Wanting job security after graduation is understandable. But the reality is no field can guarantee you a job. Additionally, new jobs are being created every day. The world of work will look different 10 years from now. Remember, prior to the internet’s invention 30 years ago, a web designer was just a spider!  

Take time to plan, but don’t let common career myths hold you back from making decisions.