Mad Dash to the Finish

It’s that time of the year when the holidays are right around the corner and it’s getting colder and darker outside (making it almost impossible to get out of bed and attend morning classes!).

With the end of the semester in sight you are probably starting to feel a little sluggish.  Maybe you’ve gotten sick or you’re downright exhausted. But, this is not the time to slow down.  Starting off the semester strong is easy. Maintaining that concentration through the last quarter of the semester is where most of us can agree, we struggle. This is the time I try to stay away from the dreaded all-nighters and eating a pack of Oreo’s for dinner.tumblr_mejpkege5k1rvvs8to1_500

This mad dash to winter break is so close you can almost touch it.  One half of you is in celebration mode and the other half in full-on panic. Here are some quick tips to keeping a nice, healthy, balance between the middle:

Breathe! Sometimes I feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done but, take a moment to sit and relax for a few minutes. Doing simple breathing exercises can help elevate stress.

Organize. I can’t say this enough! Utilize that planner of yours. Jot down assignments, due dates, test, etc. This is an ultimate life saver.

Reward yourself. What a great motivator than giving yourself something to look forward to, whether it is an hour of free time, or a spoon full of cookie butter (ok, that one is a personal favorite). You have worked hard, you deserve it!

Make time for friends. It can be easy to shut the door on your social life. However, this will make you even more stir crazy than focused. DO NOT become a hermit.

Utilize your resources. On campus there are a ton of resources at your fingertips. Sometimes we are unaware of all the resources that are available to us. The fitness center offers lots of fun classes and workout equipment, the Counseling Center has a lot of information on test anxiety and stress management, and always hosts events to help motivate and eliminate stress during finals week. Also, the Graduate Admissions Office is giving away coffee during the ENTIRE WEEK of finals week, for FREE!!imagesSometimes I find that I need a little change to help re-motivate myself to jump back into a project, paper, or studying. Some quick and easy things I will do are, go for a walk; even if it is around through the hallways. Play some music; sometimes I will put Pandora on while I get myself organized and ready to begin again. Change your environment; no one likes spending 8+ hours straight in one seat. I’ll move from the computer lab to the library, to the ACC and even go home. Set a time; sometimes I will give myself one hour increments to work. I will stay focused for the hour, and give myself as little break afterwards. This helps put the accountability on the time you set rather than yourself. Pick one; this is a bad habit of mine. It is so easy to start something and jump into something completely different. DON’T DO IT! Stay on one thing and finish it through.

Most importantly, go through the rest of Fall 2014 semester saying “I CAN DO THIS!” it may seem daunting now but when it is all done and over you will be amazed at how much you accomplished. tumblr_inline_mijzt96m9H1qz4rgp

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Truth: What grad school is REALLY like

Whether you’re considering grad school or have already decided to attend, you have probably been wondering what it’s really like.  Now that we are more than half way through the semester, I’ve seen the differences between undergraduate  and graduate life. Those of you in grad school right now will probably agree.  For those of you who have yet to experience grad school – you can thank me later for the warning 😉

spiritless

When it comes to school spirit, your undergrad life tends to revolve around spreading the school spirit. You go to hockey games, participate in homecoming weekend, and various events around campus. In graduate school we have come used to saying “we don’t have time for that!” Your school spirit is shown through yelling “go cardinals” as you race by a group of basketball players in the hall, since you are 10 minutes late for a meeting. Sometimes, you may not even know what your school colors are.  All you know is one is light and one is dark!

Social life in undergrad consisted of going downtown every weekend, lunch dates and slumber parties. In graduate school, the only social life you have is with your computer and on social media. If you do happen to have a slumber party, it is with your lab partner and you two have mistakenly fallen asleep on the floor of your room with your computer screen flashing at you.

elite-daily-mid-terms-pass-out-library-1The feeling you get walking out of a meeting with your academic advisor as an undergrad is phenomenal. You feel like you can touch the sky. You’re moving forward in your program. Classes are being checked off as completed. You are almost there. In graduate school, your progress meetings can really test your ability to accept feedback; constructive feedback that it.  (Click here for a great one page resource about accepting positive and negative feedback.)

criticismCoffee, oh coffee! Yes, your undergraduate life is full of coffee. Different kinds of coffee to be exact. You try pumpkin on Monday, a latte on Tuesday, Wednesday is hot, Thursday it’s iced and Friday has whip cream all over it! BUT, in graduate school it’s Monday through Sunday, XXL, dark, two espresso shots for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

strong-coffeeSo yea, I am not going to lie and won’t sugar coat this – graduate school is a LOT different from your undergraduate experience. Thursday is once again a weeknight.  Your text books are bigger than ever.  You are expected to read them.

But this is a whole new level of learning, so why wouldn’t it be harder, more time consuming, and stressful?  Despite everything being a little less fun and a little more exhausting, I still believe it’s totally worth it.  I’m being challenged and learning so much everyday, and in the end will have a valuable degree in my hands… after a couple more cups of coffee.