Preparing WCU Students for Finals Week

Wrapping up the Fall 2023 Semester

You did it! If you are a Freshman, be proud that you are so close to completing your first semester at West Chester University. If you’re a Senior here, you are almost one semester away from walking across that stage. Sophomores and Juniors, I didn’t forget about you… you too have so much to be proud of and you are getting closer and closer to accomplishing your academic goals.

With finals week, approaching stress levels increase drastically. With all of the final papers, final presentations, and final exams filling up your schedule, it may feel like there is just not enough time to complete it all. If this is happening to you know that you are not alone.

I have been a student here for three and a half years meaning I have experienced six semesters of finals exams. You may think I have mastered the finals week preparation, but that is not the case.

Each semester I am challenged with the workload of different courses and assignments and must reassess how to manage every task. The key is to create effective strategies to maximize your success.

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is going to be a common theme throughout this post as we want to avoid it at all costs. Burnout is the accumulation of stress that a student may have disregarded over a long period of time. The build-up of this stress causes students to fall into a cycle of negative emotions and eventually withdraw emotionally, intellectually, and physically.”

Where to Begin

Create a Schedule

Whether it is in a notebook, a calendar, your notes app, a reminders app, or a cell phone calendar begin writing down every assignment on its designated due date as well as the final exam time slots.

Once the final assignments are listed, you can begin evaluating what days and times you can designate for each assignment and create study slots.

If you are the type of student who finds it more effective to complete one assignment at a time, this can still apply. Split up the requirements for each assignment over a few days to complete it.

Attempting to put together a whole presentation or write a whole essay in one sitting could cause increased levels of stress and anxiety, decreased quality of work, and burnout.

Start Early

Staring early goes hand and hand with creating a schedule. Once a clear schedule is set, getting started is the next step. Whether you begin those long essays or you are reviewing class material from the first few weeks of the semester, don’t wait!

This will help your time management skills as well as the amount of information you are retaining, rather than trying to cram everything in your mind a few days before the big exam.

Prioritize Tasks and Assignments

Identify what tasks and assignments will require the most time to complete and get started on it as soon as possible. By prioritizing these assignments you will have effective time management, improved productivity, enhanced concentration, better quality of work, and a balanced workload.

Utilize Different Study Methods

Every student has their own study methods, some prefer Quizlet, some prefer hard copy index cards, and some prefer rewriting notes. If your study habits are working for you, don’t change them! Continue to use whatever works best for you.

If you are a student who doesn’t exactly have a set study method, explore the many different options available that can benefit the way that you prepare for exams.

Don’t forget to study regularly! Once you get one portion of the content down, don’t forget about it. Let’s say your confident and the next day you begin to review the next section of material. Review the information from the days before to keep it fresh and to stay on top of the content. Repeat this every day there is new information presented.

Ask for Help

Do not hesitate to reach out to your professor or fellow classmates for guidance. Professors, at this time probably more than ever, are willing to help their students in any way. They want to see you succeed.

If you do not ask the question(s), there is a higher chance that you will not receive the grade that you are hoping for. Even if you think it’s a “stupid question” it is better to ask than be stuck wondering if what you did was correct or wrong.

Reaching out to other students is also incredibly helpful. Likely, they are either wondering the same thing, or best case, they will have an answer for you!

Take Breaks

I know, I’m telling you how to get all of your work done but now I’m telling you to take breaks? The answer is YES! Taking breaks between your work is incredibly important to succeed.

-Maintain and improve your concentration: Prolonged periods of work can lead to mental fatigue and a decrease in attention.

Productivity: your mind will be able to “recharge” and you will not fall victim to burnout.

-Retaining information: Spreading out information has been proven to be more effective than cramming all content in at once

-Decreased stress: Stress levels will decrease as students take time to step away to relax, take a breath, and reset

-Time for reflection: Allow yourself to process the information you have just studied or the work that you have completed. This can help you understand better and recognize what else needs to be completed

-Improve time management: Building in breaks to your schedule will allow students to allocate their time and avoid procrastination

Take Time for Yourself

Last but not least, don’t forget to focus on yourself. At this time, it may feel like you are just a college student who has a million assignments due, but that’s not all that you are.

Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and staying active. If you need some time to talk to your friends, take it.

Physical and mental wellness is a crucial part of getting through the final stretch of the semester.

We’re in this Together

The main message I am striving to get across is the fact that you are not alone and we’re in this together. Every semester every student is most likely in a very similar situation. As we navigate through this period, it’s important to recognize our strengths as students at West Chester University. In these moments of stress, it becomes evident that we are not alone in our challenges; we are part of a community striving for everyone’s academic success. Together we are golden!