Written By: Firdausi Sudarmadji
The mid-semester of an academic calendar hits every student in different ways, some more than others. It causes us to skip classes, cram to keep up with the alternate day midterms, binge-watch Netflix and Hulu shows to compete against our Amazon Prime subscriptions (if they haven’t been used already) instead of completing endless assigned readings, constantly refresh Facebook news feeds (as if waiting for a miracle wave of novel gossip!) or procrastinate in some other manner (perhaps by scrolling through last summer vacation’s photos yet again). But fret not, because Threads is here to help! By considering the following five tips, you’ll easily learn to beat the mid-semester slump for good and get back to your best groove!
Shake It Up
With the change of just one preposition in the aforementioned topic subtitle, you may be reminded of Taylor Swift, but the intention here is quite different than getting “Ready For It [mid-semester blues].”
By mid-semester, you’re in a set routine of lecture/discussion/seminar, study session, gym workout or recreational exercise, part-time job duties/lab research attendance, club meeting, sorority/fraternity social, etc. The plethora of activities and “things to do” is endless. The monotony of this standard pattern - which, unfortunately for most, is unlikely to change even on the weekends - could make day-to-day life seem mundane and utterly colorless. Hence, it’s important to spice things up a bit to keep life exciting!
Sit somewhere different in class and make some small talk with your new neighbor. Share notes together to learn new perspectives, and maybe be a little bold and make them your study buddy! As clichéd as it sounds, moving out of your comfort zone can be quite beneficial, and won’t seem so daunting once you actually do!
So, go ahead and join that new Ilm (pronounced as “ill-m”; it’s Arabic for “knowledge”) class at the mosque or go to your professor’s office hours, even when you have nothing to ask. Perhaps you’ll begin to ace the Cornell note-taking method, or maybe, at the end of it all, you’ll come out a more confident person… or the person you just befriended may tell you a funny story that will make your day and then you’ll never see them again! Even more so, you could also get some new school supplies, change your usual study spot, or make a new homework & study playlist.
2. Dig Deeper
Can’t stay motivated enough to do your work? Questioning why you made the decision to take the class at all? First of all, realize that such seemingly rhetorical questions are perfectly normal to have. Next, take a breather, and go over your notes and articles and find one thing that interests you. Google the topic and dig so deep you find the family tree of the guy who created that theory/book/concept. The key here is to find what interests you. Let that curiosity and passion of inquiry consume you. Delve deep into what floats your boat, and you’ll find that sinking into the dark waters suddenly becomes a lot harder. This will hopefully make studying a little more compelling - and enjoyable!
3. Drop It Like It’s Hot
Too many commitments, and not enough time? Drop those dinner plans to study, and push your study date so you can take a catnap. It may sound counter-intuitive, but forcing your drooping eyes to obey your academic needs and compelling your brain to absorb in information that it’s currently not ready to process, is a sheer waste of time.
Trust Leonardo da Vinci, if you don’t believe my words:
“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”
Take time off work if you need to. It’s not the end of the world if you say no - no matter how much your brain tells you otherwise. Recharge your neurons, and you’ll find that learning that new theory in discrete mathematics was, in fact, easier than you thought. Your relaxation and sleep is important for keeping your mental well-being in-check, and doing so will keep you energized through all your commitments for the week. Health is wealth - especially as a college student.
4. Live for the Weekend
There’s nothing like remembering the day trip to San Francisco you’re taking with your friends this weekend to motivate you to close your Facebook tab and start on your essay (beyond the introductory paragraph). Taking baby steps to productivity will get you through the entire semester, so succeed today, until you get to tomorrow, and then repeat this formula.
For instance, I’ve always been confused on how fraternities pass their classes, but then, I realized a crazy weekend is their incentive to keep their books open during the week. Even low-key plans, such as a take-out dinner or a delectable dessert, can do the trick to keep you sane enough to make it to the weekend.
5. Share Your Pain
Talk to your mom, call up your friends from home, post a tweet. But not for too long! (Keep checking the elapsed time on Facetime, Houseparty - which is the best app of all time since it lets you video call multiple people, or Skype to keep your time in check) They’ll give you tips and tricks to get out of the slump that may actually work for you, and since they know you well, the tips will likely stick for you in the long term. Or maybe they’re stuck in the rut like you, and now you have to keep each other accountable for the assignments you have to complete. Don’t fret, or think; simply dive right into them. Again, think about the joy you’ll feel once you jump back up, out of the slump and prosper once more.
Lastly, believe in yourself and ask others - particularly loved ones - to keep you in their prayers. But still, try not to worry too much.
You’ll be out of this slump before you know it!