Midterm Szn: To First-Years, from a Second-Year

University is tough, and navigating through it by yourself for the first time is probably one of the toughest parts about it. Coming into my second year of university at Western, I knew (more or less) what to expect out of school, living on my own, and taking on responsibilities independently. Sure, I knew that there were going to be new challenges to tackle; however, when I came back in September, I was reassured by the familiarity of things, and armed with tips and tricks that I learned the hard way in first year. That’s not to say that I don’t procrastinate anymore; I do. It also doesn’t mean I’m excelling academically; I struggle just like anyone else does, but the difference is, I’m now more versed in how to approach difficulties, like exams, than I was last year.

Being surrounded by first-year friends who are encountering university midterms for the first time, I can’t help but feel for them. It’s difficult to have your worldview shaken, and it’s daunting to go from knowing how everything works in high school, to being in a new environment, re-teaching yourself how to study, and handling a course load while also learning to take care of yourself as a newly-fledged independent adult. It’s a lot to handle. That being said, I’ve compiled a few pieces of advice about midterms for anyone who feels overwhelmed by everything they have to do over the next couple of months.

Please, PLEASE, PLEASE, put your health first! This is something I absolutely cannot stress enough. If you’re too caught up in studying to the point where you neglect your mental and physical health, I can guarantee that you will lack the energy and overall ability to demonstrate your full potential on your exams. This means: minimize the number of all-nighters you pull, take a few minutes out of your day to book a doctor’s appointment if you’ve been sick for a week, take breaks to avoid anxiety and burnout, and continually check in with your mind and body about how you’re feeling. It’s worth it to take some time to take care of yourself when the alternative is to take an exam while not on your A-game and risk a hit to your grade that you could have easily avoided.

Don’t panic. What I mean by this is, remember that nothing is important enough to mean the end of the world. If you miss a quiz, assignment, test, or even an exam, arrangements can be made. If you do poorly on an assessment, don’t beat yourself up over it. Chances are, there are so many other components to your overall grade that can make up for it, and there are so many other courses that make up your overall GPA. Don’t let things carry more weight than they really do because the stress that’s associated with doing that is definitely not worth it. It’s a better use of your time to look over your course syllabus or ask around to see what the best course of action is so that you can make up for whatever happened.

Make time for your friends and family. There’s a lot of reasoning behind this. For one, if you lock yourself away in a bubble of studying, you might lose sight of what you love. Not to mention, you’ll get more caught up in the stress than you need to, and forget that there’s a world outside of academics that exists. The second part of this is, your support circle is key to your success; that is, after an exam or an intense study session at Weldon, you need something to come home to. Even if it’s not in person (think FaceTime, phone calls, even Snapchat), it helps so much to be able to talk to someone, whether it be to vent or to discuss something completely different to take your mind off of what you’ve been working on for hours.

Your friends might need someone to talk to as well. This kind of goes hand in hand with making time for your friends and family, because while you receive their support, you provide it to them as well. Maybe your friends haven’t had the chance to check out this blog post, and are burying themselves in their work with their heads down. If that’s the case, I can promise that it will mean the world to them if you check in on them to see how they’re doing, or even if you just go by to say hi. Let them vent about what’s stressing them out, remind them to take care of themselves, and just let them know that you’re around if they need anything. You might even want to show them this post!

This is just what comes to mind when I think about getting through midterm season, but I’m sure there’s a lot more that helps that I haven’t mentioned. Feel free to comment on what you think about my ideas, and definitely leave a comment with some of your own, because I for one would love to learn more!