I think the funniest phenomenon in academic life is how, at the start of second semester, people suddenly become students.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the majority of us aren’t here to study, because we are. We do our assignments (sort of) on time, do readings (when we can), and try not to procrastinate (too much). But when all of these “sort of’s,” “when we can’s,” and “too much’s” build up, we start to freak out a little. Stress gnaws at us, anxiety takes hold, and we feel almost crushed by the weight of our academic commitments. I feel like we don’t really know how much we have on our plate until we’re forced to start eating, if you know what I mean.
(I don’t mean eating your homework to get out of a deadline, by the way. I mean us having to start the term papers we’ve put off since the third week of class.)
But after we make it through crunch time (Whether that be transition week or the exam period) we vow to do better. Second semester we will stay organized, keep our stuff together, get things done weeks before. We’ll read AND highlight our notes. Review lecture materials after class. Heck, maybe we’ll even put up our hand once or twice! But do we actually? Yes, but only for a week or two. Soon we fall back into bad habits, put things off, and eventually end up in the same state we promised we’d never endure again.
The reason for this is because, in keeping with the food analogy, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. By setting these paradigm shift standards, we bite off more than we can chew, and end up unable to finish the meal we intended to start. It seems easy to do a little bit of work every day in order to get things done on time, and it is— just not when you’ve spent the last 20 years of your life putting things off until the last minute. That’s why when we make these ‘new semester resolutions,’ we need to be more reasonable. Maybe it isn’t doing ALL of your readings, just the topics you need clarification on. Maybe it’s not finishing your whole assignment in the first three nights its assigned, but just reviewing your notes and making an outline. These are little steps that can help a lot toward your goal, but aren’t so daunting that you’ll ditch them for old habits by midterm season. They’re ways to change, not ways we wish we were different.
Keep your chin up this semester, kiddo. You’ve got a few months until summer, and whether you’re riding a high from getting killer marks last semester or knowing you’re going to have to work hard to make up for the bad ones, know that I’m rooting for you. You’ve got the power to be all that you can be, and whether that means telling your calendar things are due a week before they actually are or writing a paragraph a day for that term paper, you can do it. I believe in you!