Midterm Strategies to Survive the Semester

Focused young African female student writing in notebookWith midterms exams behind us, we can finally breathe and reflect on our progress.

Whether you’re “killing it” so far this semester, or this semester is killing you, the good news is that there’s still enough time between now and finals to maintain your grades or make a triumphant comeback.

If you’re coasting through this semester relatively stress-free, you’re probably already familiar with the following success tips. Otherwise, here are some simple strategies to help get you back on track.

1. Write down your goals.

Why is pursuing a degree important to you? What are your personal and professional goals?
You wouldn’t be here unless you knew in some way that achieving higher education would add value to your life.

Keeping sight of your long-term and short-term goals can help you stay focused on the future when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the present.

One research study shows that sharing your goals with a friend could help you be even more successful. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, recruited 267 participants from a variety of businesses and organizations worldwide for a study on goal achievement. Her findings presented in the summer of 2015 showed that “participants who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a friend had a much higher success rate than those who kept their goals to themselves.”

2. Make lists and keep a schedule.

So now that you know some of your goals, what are tangible ways to make them a reality? When you’re juggling multiple classes, your job, and your personal life, making task lists and keeping schedules are essential to staying organized and bringing your goals to life.

Breaking down your goals into a list of smaller tasks, or mini-goals, can help you be productive without getting overwhelmed by the big picture. Prioritizing and scheduling your tasks can help you make efficient use of your time and efforts. When you check those items off your to-do list and actually see your progress, it can boost your self-confidence and motivate you to keep going.

You can use a handwritten planner, a dry-erase board, or a scheduler app, but be realistic about what you will keep up with. If one method doesn’t work for you, try another!

While you’re scheduling, check out UA Little Rock’s official academic calendar.

3. Ask questions.

Your professors and instructors want to help you succeed. If you are confused about an assignment, ask questions. If you don’t understand something your instructor said in their lecture, ask questions. If the syllabus has dates that don’t match up with another schedule from the class, ask questions. Asking questions provides clarity and strengthens student-instructor relationships.

Dr. Heidi Skurat Harris, associate professor of rhetoric and writing, said, “If a student is concerned about their performance at midterm, I generally work with them to see if there are simple things that they can improve. Are they reading all of the assignment directions before completing their assignments? Are they blocking out time during the week to complete the work with enough time to review and revise before they submit? Have they reached out for help regularly in the first part of the course? If the answer to any of these is ‘no,’ then those are the areas where they can start to improve to do better in the second half of the course.”

Reach out. It’s not too late. There is always room for improvement.

4. Take care of yourself.

You have made it this far. There’s no turning back now. (Seriously though, there isn’t. The last day to drop an individual class for the semester was October 12). You’re a hard-working, goal-setting, question-asking college student. And if that isn’t enough pressure, now you’re being asked to take care of yourself too? Yes. What’s the point in all this work if you burn out before the end?

Even if you have to put it on your schedule, carve out a few minutes for yourself. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Meditate for five minutes a day. Dance to your favorite song. Treat yourself to a delicious, healthy breakfast. Borrow someone’s puppy to play with. Watch Moana again.

Deborah Day tells us, “Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”

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