New Semester Resolutions

Think back to the end of last semester. How did that go for you? How much sleep did you lose preparing for exams? Were you overwhelmed with coursework and study that needed doing? Did you simultaneously have several projects and several exams to prep for? How many assignments did you complete/turn in minutes before the deadline? Did you cope by picking up any bad habits? Did you feel in control of your world?

Now, think ahead to this semester. Did you read the course descriptions? Are you excited? Have you made any “New Semester Resolutions” to study more, start your homework earlier, manage your time better?

Last question: did you make these same resolutions at the start of last semester?

Is this what it feels like to learn?

For many of us, every semester follows the same cycle. It starts full of hope and curiosity.  You read the descriptions of the new classes you’ll be taking. You grab copies of the text book, leaf through the table of contents, excited that you’ll know what some of these terms mean soon. You create an empty folder for the course on your computer. You buy a new blank notebook.

Things go well for the first few weeks. You feel as though you are in control. You have plenty of time to study and complete assignments. The material is challenging but interesting. You think to yourself, “Maybe I can do this.” You ask questions in class that relate to understanding the material.

Then it hits the metaphorical fan. An assignment stumps you, you find yourself with two quizzes to prepare for in the same week. The first round of exams looms. You’ve got too many assignments to turn in, so you sacrifice reading the textbook, or even going to class, so that you can get it all done. You make the first tradeoff of the semester, skipping an assignment worth less points so that you can complete one that is “more important.” You ask questions in class such as “When is this due? Can we have an extension?”

From that moment until the day after final exams end, your adrenaline gland is working overtime. You never regain that sense of control. You’re just scrambling from one fire to the next, trying desperately get it all done without torpedoing your grades. You ask questions in class such as “will this be on the exam?”

There’s hope. Learning can be better than this. And it starts with you realizing two very crucial points:

  1. It’s not your fault.
  2. It’s totally your fault.

It’s not your fault. Why?

1. Too much coverage.

2. No coordination between courses.

3. Most time management strategies are useless for students.

It’s totally your fault. Why?

1. You make unconscious decisions that sabotage your studies.

2. You give complete, unquestioning control to your teachers.

3. You react, rather than living with intention.

At the end of the day, both Teachers and Students often miss the point of school. We all focus on the easily-measured, testable facts and miss the bigger picture. This week, let’s create a plan to make this your best semester ever.

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