Starting the semester off right

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Tips for turning your C’s into A’s

The combination of a new year and a new semester give students the opportunity to say, “This time, things are going to be different.” Many resolutions can be made – avoiding procrastinations, staying ahead on readings, promising to be on time to every class, or even attending every class.

Unfortunately, by the time midterms roll around, many students have all but abandoned these resolutions. But there is hope. Brian Sveinson, the director of Student Services, has some tips on how to start – and finish – the semester the right way.

One of Sveinson’s first tips is having a balanced lifestyle.

“Yes, it’s about doing some work, but also, I think, being able to visit with friends and engaging in pleasurable things. If you like reading, or whatever it might be, setting aside time to do that,” Sveinson said. “.But you have to avoid getting into heavy things like gaming that can take up to 16 hours of your day and then try to go to school on top of that.”

This seems like a simple enough concept, but finding time for pleasurable activity when you have three exams in a week is not easy.

Sveinson has tips for that, too. He recommends starting the semester with as much work as you put in during midterm preparations.

“There have been some other people at different universities that have come up with the idea that, in some ways, the time we should be putting the most effort into work is during the first two weeks,” Sveinson said. “It gets us ahead and gets us on the right path for the semester. Sveinson suggested getting ahead on readings while you have the time, or beginning your assignment that is due in three weeks.

Often, students intend to get ahead this way, but it’s something that is easier said than done.

“It gets very difficult for us to get back on track right away,” Sveinson said. “We get into that January [and] February blues time and we’re really struggling in some ways and procrastinating a lot. We need to start off the same way we did in September.”

Sveinson also suggests the dragging that usually comes along with January and February is associated with the business of the holiday season, and students need to relax.     “Things like breathing can help,” he said. “Just listening to ourselves breathe can help our bodies relax. It has a great meditative aspect.”

According to Sveinson, the start of the semester has been made a bit easier by the warm conditions.

“The great thing about this winter is that it’s not forty-below, and we can get outside and exercise,” he said.

But by February, students will likely be in need of a break, good weather or not. On the subject of relaxation, Sveinson also thinks reading week is an important time for students to recharge.

“Whoever decided upon [putting reading week in this semester] definitely had some wisdom, because we do need that break,” Sveinson said. “There [are] students who have been working hard and can get ahead without that pressure of being in class.”   

While getting ahead might be important, Sveinson also said setting aside some time to be outside or read or play video games each day is key to finding balance. This suggestion comes with a warning, however.

“Free time becomes a luxury,” Sveinson said. “We get stressed or bored or whatever, so we get into social media. Facebook can take over a person’s life. It’s the same as anything else; it’s a matter of giving yourself a certain time for each thing”.

Following these tips should ensure midterms and finals aren’t as stressful this semester, and for once, you can hang on to those resolutions.

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