Finals season? Don’t fret (too much, anyway)
Tips for surviving finals
By Lauren Patetta
Junior, Journalism & Literature
The last few weeks of the semester are a notoriously stressful time. Whether it’s your first finals season or you’ve been through this many times before, here are some tips to help you manage the finals workload.
- Don’t study in bed, because you won’t study. I know it’s tempting to work in comfort, but it’s better to have designated areas for study and keep your bed a designated area for sleep and relaxation. Find a place that you’re productive, whether it be a building on campus or a coffee shop in Adams Morgan. Once you’ve worked there for a while, then you can go hope and take that two hour nap.
- Talk to professors in office hours, especially if you have any questions about the material or need to narrow down topics for your final paper. Most professors, in my experience, are more than eager to talk to their students, and many have extra office hours during finals season. Attending office hours will help you get questions answered, talk through an idea and simply get a better grasp of the material.
- Exercise. Even if it’s just a twenty minute walk, getting up and moving can help reset your brain to focus again. Not to mention, our bodies need to stretch after sitting hunched over at a laptop for hours in the library. Go for a jog, take an exercise class or go to the gym with friends.
- Work on those final papers a little bit every night because they will sneak up on you. It may seem easier to just put it off until the deadline, but no amount of caffeine will help you write 15 pages in six hours.
- Don’t work alone. Studying with someone else can hold you accountable for actually getting work done. It also makes all the work more bearable to have someone to suffer with.
- Keep your phone out of sight. Put it in another room or give it to your roommate and tell them not to return it until you’ve accomplished what you set out to accomplish. If you need to keep your phone by you, delete social media apps and anything else that’s likely to distract you.
How to Balance a Full Course Load and an Internship (and Not Lose your Mind)
By Samantha Liptak
Junior, Journalism & Environmental Studies
I currently work 20 unpaid hours a week at a quaint little office with too few windows in Dupont. I love what I do — which is conducting outreach and providing support for an environmental nonprofit called Earth Day Network — but it can be a lot. I often go straight from an 8:10 class to the office, where I stay until four or five-o-clock in the afternoon.
Oh, and I’m also a full-time student, so homework follows after that.
It’s fun; don’t get me wrong. You get to push yourself harder than you ever have before. You get to see how much you can do with so little time. But balancing all of it and trying to have a social life can get hectic.
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide to managing the chaos. I’m here to share some insight from my experience this semester and let everyone know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
Designate Time for School Work
The last thing I want to do after working 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is to set up shop in the library or my apartment and do hours’ worth of homework. But I know that it’s necessary, and explicitly setting a schedule helps tremendously. Having a plan and writing it all out makes me feel less stressed so that I can put my best effort forward (both at my internship and in my classes).
And if you’re sitting back thinking, “planning isn’t my thing. I’ll get it done,” I want you to know that I thought the same thing before I started. When you’re in the thick of the semester — dealing with midterms and a fourteen-hundred-word blog post you promised the resident writer at your internship — you’ll thank me for encouraging this.
I’m lucky that my internship believes “school comes first” and allows me to leave early occasionally so I can get some other work done. I’m sure not all places think or act this way.
Care for Yourself
Maintaining your grades and making your internship bosses happy are important pieces to this guide, but so is caring for yourself. If you are overworked, tired or completely stressed out (or all of the above), it’s highly likely that you won’t produce your best work.
Take care of yourself, whether this means taking a nice long lunch every once in a while, going into the city on the weekend or just staying in bed and watching Netflix on your off days. Like I said earlier, life can get very full, so make sure you’re mentally and physically healthy so you can enjoy the ride.
Embrace the Chaos
I don’t know if everyone feels this way, but I thrive when I’m busy. I feel productive because I’m forced to get out of bed early in the morning and not return home until late at night. If I didn’t have this schedule, I probably wouldn’t get as much done.
There will be days when you want to quit. There will be days when you feel like skipping an assignment. But remember to refocus on your end goal, on why you’re putting yourself through this in the first place. It will help you, or at least helps me, feel grateful for the opportunities I have, however chaotic they make life.
Revel in the moments and people that make you feel grounded
If I didn’t live with four of my best friends in a crowded two-bedroom, I don’t know how I’d get through it. I come home from a long day, and they’re always doing something crazy that makes me forget about the stressful day I had. They help me stay grounded.
Am I suggesting that you need to live with or hang out with your best friends all the time to make it through? No, but please remember to have fun once in a while outside of class and work. Laugh with your friends, see a stupid movie and make sure you don’t miss out on anything just because you feel like you have too much to do.
Try your best (and recognize when you’re doing all you can)
This is the most important tip to remember. Not everything is going to go your way, even if you try your hardest. You can’t ask yourself to give more than your all.
Try to wake up in the morning and feel content with your effort, if not the quality of your work. You’re the only one who can feel how hard you’re working.
I wholeheartedly believe we all end up where we’re supposed to be in life. I don’t think I could work like this every semester, but these five tips helped me (nearly) get to the finish line. I hope they propel you to finish the semester, and your internship, in one piece.
What I wish I had known about the first six weeks
By Elise Plonski
Junior, Public Relations and Strategic Communication
It’s no secret to anyone who has spent some time on a college campus that there is a definite shift in the overall mood right around the semester’s six-week mark (i.e. the beginning of October). Mid-terms are in full-swing. Homesickness settles in for some while physical sickness sets in for the rest. I have made it through six of those pesky first-few-weeks milestones and so I’ve compiled a list of six things I wish I had known or thought about during the first six weeks of the semester. Here are the things I think everyone needs a reminder of from time to time.
1. Pace yourself!
It is exciting to be back on campus and in the full swing of college after a break from it all. The first two weeks of the semester is when all of the recruitment starts for clubs and other organizations on campus. Be practical about what you choose to get involved with. Make sure it is fulfilling, fun, and worth your while. Don’t overextend yourself before you even know how much you have to give!
2. Make time to spend with yourself and others
Life is hard enough, don’t make yourself have to go through it all alone. We are all guilty of isolating ourselves because there’s so much work to do. Find time to be with yourself and with your friends and do something that is purely fun. I have never regretted putting down my homework to go spend time with friends, but I do regret the countless times that I didn’t.
3. Show up to class and ask for help
Right around this point in the semester, it is so tempting to take advantage of your “freebie” absences offered in some classes that won’t count negatively toward your grade. We have all been there. Take breaks when you need them but remember to build up the good relationship with your professors early, so you can more easily advocate for yourself later on when you might need some slack.
4. Please, please take care of yourself
Nothing is ever worth you not eating, sleeping, or being healthy. Remember that. Set boundaries and make sure you prioritize your wellness.
5. Soak it all in
Our time in college is short lived but still a great and important time in life. Don’t forget to stop and take it all in once in a while!
6. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself
The final and most important item on this list. Let this be a reminder that you are in fact, doing a great job. Your best is all you can give, so be sure to credit your effort! Your best effort doesn’t always look like someone else’s, and that is okay! Remember to congratulate yourself on how far you have come. At the end of the day, your personal progress is the ultimate goal.
Choosing a Second Major or Minor
By Lauren Patetta
Everyone student in the School of Communication knows that they are required to add a second major or minor, but sometimes the process of choosing one feels intimidating. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. There are a multitude of ways to start exploring potential majors or minors if you don’t have anything specific in mind, and SOC is always willing to help. The easiest way to figure out what you’re interested in is take a variety of General Education/AU Core classes. Don’t limit yourself to one type of class, or to one subject that you know you’re either good at or interested in. Branch out, and be sure to read the class descriptions — you might find something that you didn’t even know you loved. Though you may feel obligated to choose a political science major or minor, as its ability to pair well with journalism makes it a popular choice, you shouldn’t be afraid to look at more uncommon pairings. I personally am a journalism major with a minor in creative writing, and I know classmates who have chosen environmental science, religious studies, and law and society majors or minors. Your SOC classes are also a great way to explore potential interests. Understanding Media is particularly good for introducing new topics, because it covers so many different ideas in the context of the media. The great thing about communications is that it goes well with almost anything, because writing and communicating are the basis of most other areas of study. It also means that your SOC classes will discuss topics through the lens of journalism or public relations, making it easier to find your interests. For example, SOC has a Center for Environmental Filmmaking, which is a great way to pair both science and communications. If you feel stuck, you can always go to your advisor or professors for help. Your SOC advisors are always available to make appointments, and will help you manage your four years at AU and plan different majors or minors. Their guidance can help you, especially if you don’t know what to do. Also, don’t be afraid to go to your professors’ office hours for help. Just chatting with them can open up new avenues that you didn’t know existed. Remember, you don’t need to make this choice right away. You have until the end of sophomore year to make a decision, and even then, you can change if necessary. Don’t just settle for what you think will be easiest or get you a job, choose something you’re passionate about and the rest will come. Also remember not to make this a source of stress in your life — college is stressful enough. You’ll easily be able to find something throughout all the classes you take and all the experiences you have in D.C