People joke about it, but late semester burnout is a very real thing. I know all about it. I went to school for most of my life. I took six years to do my undergrad and then went to grad school for another three. And during grad school I taught freshman English. There is no greater late semester fallout than that of freshman English, I promise you that. So, this advice comes from me in the most qualified way, I’ve seen it, done it, and suffered through all of it.
Do not ignore it. It’s real. It’s not in your head. It feels like the semester might drag out forever. Remember October when you were skipping along remarking, wow how fast has this gone. And now everything has slowed to a painful crawl. The work seems to be piling up faster than your laundry. It can get overwhelming very fast.
Rely heavily on to-do lists and post-it-notes. One of the greatest side effects of burnout is forgetfulness. You who never forgets anything will miss deadlines, office appointments, and sleep through study group. Make a separate list for every class with due dates and the need for each assignment. Put yourself on a schedule. If you don’t everything will build up and collapse upon you.
Procrastinate less. It’s impossible to tell a student, or really anyone to not put things off, so the goal here is to do it less. Usually the hardest and most overwhelming part is starting something. So just start. Even if it means just reading the assignment a few times, opening the book to the right page, getting down a shitty first draft of a paper or the opening paragraph. Having started means, you’re already almost done.
Take care of yourself. Party less. I cannot stress this enough, party less. Just a little less. Keep it to the weekends or one night a week. The extra sleep, the conserved calories, the sheer brainpower of someone not hungover is like having super powers. Plus, winter break is just around the corner so you can rage all you want once you finish finals. In addition to that, take some you time. While not partying, get a face mask from the drug store and watch The Notebook in your dorm room. Go the gym or spring for a massage. Recharging is essential and will help you win in the long run.
Resist the thought process of, it doesn’t matter. It does matter. It matter a while lot. And it’s easy to think late in the semester that sleeping through a class, or skipping that one paper won’t matter. It does matter, and it’s a slippery slope. And guess what, your teacher doesn’t care that you’ve been doing the rest of the work. That paper is worth ten percent of your grade, and ten percent is the same during the first week as it is the last few. Don’t let yourself down now.
And this is the teacher in me speaking: talk to your teacher if you feel near meltdown status. Often students never say anything and guess what, we’re humans too. We’re having semester burnout too. Communication goes a long way and they can help you prioritize work if it’s late, tell you how to budget your time, and even sometimes give you extensions if you need it. Be honest. They want you to succeed, I promise.
Best of luck, you’re almost there! How do you stay motivated when the going gets tough? Tell us in the comments!
(Featured Image via @emmastudies)