The last weeks of March and April are a stressful time for university and college students. Papers and exams pile up, summer or first-job interviews are scheduled and high-stakes and healthy meals and gym attendance fade. We asked the Globe and Mail Student Council how they handle the demands.
1. If there's a test or a midterm that you are afraid you will not do well on, perform a little calculation: Take the mark you want and subtract the mark you're afraid you'll get, multiply that percentage by the total value of the assignment. That will give you the difference that percentage will make for your course mark. You can even divide that by the number of courses you'll take in your university career to gain more perspective. The biggest failure won't amount to more than 1 per cent in the grand scheme of things. Try that equation and see if it doesn't make you feel better.
2. Avoid family members who ask 'What are you going to do with that degree when you're finished?'
3. Request extensions. If you have three exams on the same day, most universities will change one of them – you should talk to your school about rescheduling even if you have two on the same day.
4. Don't leave requests for extensions to the last minute. Then they're just excuses – have a good case for why you can't complete three or four essays in one week and propose a reasonable new deadline. You may find professors are understanding
5. Health is a system, not a series of five minute activities squeezed in between other more important commitments. Sometimes you have to accept a slightly less impressive paper in favour of sleeping, or skip a meeting and catch up on it electronically just to have some down time.
6. Keep it light: Go out for dinner with friends, play basketball, work out. Because I'm single and the weather is getting nicer, I'm also thinking about asking girls out on a date (despite the finals coming up).
7. Plot out all your commitments at the beginning of term with due dates and points of progress – conferences, volunteer opportunities, internship and job applications. Set aside some free time to stay sane. When everything is due in March it's natural to feel swamped by all the tasks and deadlines we have – that's when going back to the calendar and examining what needs to be accomplished, and by when, restores calm.
8. Set goals and measure how far you are from reaching them. You will often find that you are not as far as you think.
9. Clean your apartment and meditate. Meditating allows you to reflect on the day, appreciate that you got through it and focus on peace. Cleaning is productive procrastination and ensures a clean and comfortable place to focus.
10. Don't sit for hours attempting to do work. Get up and go outside. Simple but works every time.
11. Remember that life goes on no matter how you do. Focus on Plan A, but realize you might have to come up with a Plan B.