Avoiding the Finals Crash

a cartoon of a man collapsed at a desk

used with permission from cuatower some rights reserved

Ask most students, and a majority will agree that there is little to no sleeping during Finals week. This is not unique to any major, degree, or institution. It is pretty much accepted that during finals and possibly even the week before that students will not get adequate sleep.

While many can understand why this happens, you may be surprised to discover that this doesn’t need to happen nor is it at all beneficial. From personal experience, I can tell you that the correlation between sleep and grades on exams is often positive. There are some exceptions to this rule of course (like if you take this so seriously that you decide to sleep instead of studying), but if used rationally, this advice can help you do better than you might have done.

How does this work? First of all, if you are like most others who don’t get adequate sleep during testing, you may agree with me that you cannot concentrate as well during the tests as you would if you had slept. In fact, studies have shown that driving without sleep is even more dangerous than driving while inebriated (though I’m not advocating for that either) because of delayed reaction times as well as the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. When you are taking exams that are timed, it is really detrimental to be sleepy because your concentration level is not what it should be. The same questions that you may be able to answer in one/two minutes may take you five minutes.

How about when you have an essay or short answer final. These often require that you hand-write your responses. How many people can write as legibly when they’re half asleep? I know that when I try to take notes or write a paper while asleep, I end up with some gobblygoop or ____________ on the paper. I’ve had professors who say that they won’t grade illegible papers. That can mean an automatic zero!

Of course, another thing you need to be worried about is the coffee or other drinks that you are consuming to allow your body to stay awake an unnatural amount of hours. Caffeinated beverages like Red Bull, Coffee, Five Hour Energy, Coca Cola cause other responses besides keeping you awake. Caffeine is a stimulant drug (in the same class as cocaine). Other effects that you can have when taken in high “dosages” can be anxiety and palpitations. I have seen students fail exams because of nervousness after drinking too much espresso. Also, these drinks act as diuretics causing increase urine production. How are you going to take and or finish an exam if you need to use the restroom multiple times throughout the test?

The good thing about these issues is that they are easily manageable. Make sure to sleep before your exams. While seven hours would be ideal, realistically that might not be possible. Aim for a minimum of six hours of sleep before an exam. If you work a night shift, try to get the night before the exam off if you will not be able to sleep between your shift and the exams. Don’t drink too many caffeinated beverages. Sometimes cold water may be adequate to keep you up without causing adverse effects of caffeine.

I know that you’ll do great, just avoid a crash landing!

Textbooks, fight the battle win the war

a stock image of young woman with her chin on a stack of books

used with permission from College Degree 360 some rights reserved

I found this picture, and I was just wondering, are all those books for one class that the model REALLY likes, or does she just really enjoy all five of her classes? To me, both of these scenarios seem a little unrealistic.

I have some classes right now that require four books in addition to the study guides, reference books and style guides. Even if I love the class, I still am not that happy about all the books. I feel like my apartment is drowning in books. In fact, I have been required to purchase an additional two bookshelves just to hold all of my textbooks. I have sold some of these books, but there are some that I need to hold on to or are so old that no one wants to buy them. One thing that is so annoying is when I need to buy a special edition textbook that is made specifically for this school. While it’s frustrating to purchase these books because they end up even more expensive than usual, to me the worst part is trying to sell them again.

Of course I could hang a sign on a random wall and hope that someone will see it and actually need the book. However, I have not had much success with this method. Most of my books, I sell back to Amazon or TextbooksRus. These sites allow me to send them my books and receive money without trying to find a buyer. However, they will not take special edition books.

And, as I posted previously, how are you supposed to carry all of those books? I think that in order to bring my books home from the store I should probably rent a Uhaul. There is no school bag large enough to hold these books. E Readers and eBooks may be useful if they’re available, but what about when they are not? Obviously, there is no perfect solution. Ina an ideal world, we should be able to use one textbook for all the classes in a certain area or even be able to study some subjects without a book at all, but since we do use textbooks, let’s just remember that it’s only a battle.

I’m more concerned about the war!

Why put off to tomorrow what you may never need to do?

a cartoon diagram of procrastination

used with permission from UBC Learning Commons some rights reserved

So we are nearing the finish line. At that point when you have some finals, papers, projects, and assignments left, but are getting ready to complete those classes. This is also the time when we start coming down with “Spring Fever”. You know what I’m talking about. It’s so easily diagnosed.

You were doing so well in that class. You learned what the professor expected from you, what effort was really required to do well in the class, and you arranged your schedule to fit the requirements. So you cut down your hours at work, figured out what days you can hang out with friends, you may have even figured out which of your shows you will be able to watch.

But of course, all good intentions may not last. It started with that Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, you were saving a major paper top write on Thanksgiving because you would have SO much time, but alas, how could you work on schoolwork when the family is going to the parade, watching football, carving the turkey… Before you know it, it’s 6:00 at night, sure you still can write that paper, but now the turkey is kicking in. How are you supposed to write a decent paper when you have tryptophan coursing through your body? So you go to sleep. After all, you still have the rest of the weekend, Right?

We all know how the rest of this story goes. We both know that after something like that, combined with the Spring Fever and possibly Senioritis, it will be very difficult to get back on track.

Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The semester has a definitive endpoint. You have a final scheduled, a date when all of your assignments are due and when grades will be submitted. Even if you choose to request an incomplete, there will be a deadline to complete your work. This can be good because there will be an end to the class, a time when you no longer need to worry about how to calculate the slope of… (Unless of course you are a math major). You will need to hand in that 20 page paper whether or not it is properly formatted, has an adequate number of primary sources, or meets the requirements. There will also be a time when even if you have another five chapters to read before taking the final, you will need to take it.

This can also be bad news for the same reasons. Anything that you don’t finish now, you may never be able to do. You don’t have time to procrastinate. You need to do this work now so that you can get the credit for it.

Don’t delay, or you’ll have to pay!

Avoiding Burnout in the Job Hunt: Stop, Drop, and Roll

a hand circling classified ads

So you’re finally up to graduation! You’re so excited. Finally you can enter the work force as a proud, educated, eligible employee. You’re on top of the world, no one can ruin your joy. Until you remember, wait, now you need to find that job…

Reality starts to set in. The job market is not that great right now. Maybe you need another certification, maybe even a more advanced degree. You start to search the job boards. Everyone wants experienced employees. Your internship site has a hiring freeze with an indefinite end-date. Maybe this is the wrong field for you. Maybe this was all a waste.


Remember, your a highly qualified applicant. That job that you didn’t get, it wasn’t meant to be. A place that doesn’t want to hire a new graduate probably isn’t where you want to work. There are so many potential employers, and it’s possible that your “ideal” is not actually that.


Forget the ego. You might need to take a less coveted job to work up to the level of your dream. Drop the frown. It’s time to remember why you wanted to do this career. Remember how idealistic you were when you started college, when you took the first class in your major? Get that dream back. Think about the positive side. Once you have a job, you’ll need to work everyday, all day. Take advantage of your time off to develop some hobbies, take a class, and become a super networker.


Sometimes the job offers come when you least expect them. Roll with the punches. If you get a temporary position, take it. It may lead to a permanent job, looks great for experience, and fills up your resume so that you don’t have too many gaps to explain. Remember that even a day at the movies can turn into an amazing networking experience. Talk to people about their lives, it looks good, and you can find job hunting ideas along the way.

If a job opportunity comes up that is indirectly related to your field, look in to it. You may find a new dream job!

Good luck on your next step!

Lose the Weight

I know what you think. Even though many of us students have gained weight over the past few semesters, I won’t be preaching about the importance of losing that extra bulge I have enough that I need to lose myself. (Also, in most cases those who need to lose weight wouldn’t realize that I was talking to them, and those girls whose BMIs are close to a scary 15 will think that I am telling them to lose even more.) I’m talking about the weight outside yourbody that you carry with you all the time. And while many don’t know this, that heavy load in your back is apt to hurt you just as much, although in different ways, as the extra layer of blubber that you carry around your waist.

My first semester of college, I bought myself a nice suede bag. I felt that since I am an adult I shouldn’t be using a backpack. Of course, I made sure that the bag was roomy enough for at least two textbooks, a laptop, a looseleaf, notebooks, my planner, lunch. Basically it was a suitcase that I could carry on my one shoulder. However this is even worse because at the rate of what I was putting in to it, I would probably have to pay an overweight fee. I’m sure that at least the ladies reading this know that there is a law regarding handbags. The size of the handbag you carry, is always directly proportional to the things that you will NEED to carry.

By the end of that semester, I realized that something had to be done. The first thing that I did was purchase a more reasonably sized bag. However, there were still some things that I had to bring. I’m one of those students who comes to class prepared. I cannot quite understand those students who show up to class with one piece of paper and not even a pen. How do they plan on writing on that paper? However, by the end of that semester, I also realized that most classes won’t use the textbooks in class. I finally got packing my bag down pat.

The next semester I was thrown a wrench. Not only did my professor want us to bring our books, it was the heaviest book of the program that she wanted us to bring. All of the sudden, I started seeing the tablets, Nooks, Kindles, iPads… in class. Right away that jumped to the top of my school supplies “wishlist”.

I just got a Nook after all this time. It is a miracle. Finally I don’t feel like I’m falling over from the weight. I can actually exercise on my way to school.

If you’d like your schoolbag to join mine on its diet, let me know. I’m sure my bag would love to give your’s some support!

What Do Deadlines Really Mean?

Even though this happens frequently, it always irks me. The paper has a deadline. On the first day of class, your professor told you when the term paper is due. It’s written on the syllabus ands on Blackboard. Why is it that students still use the excuse that they didn’t know it was due?

We’be been discussing this assignment since day one. In fact, you knew about it before the semester, so why do you feel like you’re I entitled to an extension?

I understand that not all students do their work in advance. I know that cramming the night before an exam or trying to write a term paper the night before it’s due is fairly common among college students, but if that’s how you workdo why does it entitle you to an extension?

And for all those professors who grant extensions, don’t you know that you’re doing your students a great disservice? Are they going to be guaranteed extensions in the job? And what about those students who diligently adhere to all your deadlines. How do you think they feel when their deadline is adjusted to accommodate procrastinators?

Please, check your schedules. Make sure you know when things are due and take responsibility for your assignments!

Using General Education Requirements to Further Your Career

a cartoon strip about statistics

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/correlation.png This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. As many of my readers know, I am graduating from my nursing program this semester. Of course, like all of the other majors in the school, in addition to Nursing and health related classes, I am required to take co-requisites. Some of them, like Anatomy and Physiology, biology, Microbiology, Psychology, and even English, are easily correlated to my career goals. The information covered in these classes are obviously required for successful integration into this field. But what about some of the other classes? When am I ever going to need to understand theories in Sociology, issues in history or economics, or even figure out a trigonometric equation?

Some of these, I honestly can’t tell you, except that one day I may have a patient who is a mathematician, and I may need to understand some basic equations to get something across to him. But, since they are required, and I will be sitting through those classes anyway, doesn’t it make sense for me to derive some benefit from these classes?

I recently discovered that most subjects can be correlated to any curriculum. For example, I took Effective Speaking last semester. Each speech that I gave was somehow connected to the material I was covering anyway. In this way, the hours spent studying, researching, and writing will hopefully be put to good use in my career.

I’d love to hear about your ways of connecting seemingly unconnected topics to benefit your total education.

Textbooks, Study Guides, Coffee…

a cartoon person reading an upside-down book that says "HOW TO BE A PERFECT STUDENT"The semester is definitely underway. I know that this is so when my textbooks are more often off the shelves than on, I never leave home without some sort of study guide, and if I only have $2, chances are I’ll just buy the coffee. Notebooks, index cards, pens, and eReader are what fill my bag, even on my days off, I keep sticky notes near my bed to write down those things that I remember as I’m falling asleep, and if I eat a meal that takes more than 15 minutes to cook, I must be a guest somewhere or at a restaurant.

When my budget cuts out things like makeup, dry cleaning, and clothes to be filled with textbooks, coffee, and another school bag (because I keep buying cheap ones that rip). When I use my small makeup bag as a pencil case, and that stationery becomes a notepad. When waiting on a stalled train is a vacation, and abus even more so (because I have internet access), I know the semester’s definitely underway.

What signs tell you that it’s no longer the start of the semester?

Mark Your Calendars!

a circle of calendar pages

some rights reserved from Tanakawho

I’d like to start out this post saying that the lessons that are included in this entry are thanks to my ENG 1121 professor, Dr. Monique Ferrell. I want to start by thanking her for impressing the importance of this aspect of student responsibility at such an early point in my college career because it has saved myself and many others who have benefitted from this lesson as well.

So, today is the second day of the semester, so it’s actually a little late for this.

College life is different than High School and other programs. Most students are fully aware of this. They are glad to have less hours of actual class time, be able to take classes that they want (for the most part), choose their professors, and meet other students with similar interests. One thing that students don’t count on, which is part of the more independent life of a college student, is the amount of responsibility that they have for their success or failure.

No one will be giving you detention if you don’t show up to class or come late. Most professors won’t stay on your backs about assignments, and no one at college will be monitoring the amount of time you spend on classwork outside of class. These are all actually very important skills for students to master because most workplaces are similar.

On thing that every student should become accustomed to doing before every semester, is reviewing the academic calendar. Every date on that calendar is important, but there are some dates that are so important that I think they should receive special attention.

The first group of dates are the dates that say what the refund will be if a course is dropped by that day. As the semester progresses, students have the opportunity to drop classes for 100%, 75%, 50%, or 25% refunds. Usually, in order to receive 100% refund, the class must be dropped by or before the first day of the semester. The other refund amounts are usually in decreasing amounts each week. By the fourth week of the semester you can no longer DROP the class.

You can however, WITHDRAW. The difference is, that when you DROP a class, it is removed from your transcript, and it will not affect your grades. However, although a WITHDRAWAL also won’t affect your grades, it will remain on your transcript as ATTEMPTED CREDITS. This sometimes will change financial aid status. Also, some classes or  programs allow a maximum number of attempts at passing a course, and a W grade will constitute one of your attempts.

So why does it matter? If you feel that a class won’t work for you, for whatever reason: schedule, professor, or academic, it’s best to DROP the class. However, if it’s too late to DROP, a grade of W is still better than an inferior grade. Usually, the course WITHDRAWAL period ends after mid semester grading. By then, you will have a pretty good idea of how you are doing and what you need to do to excel. At that point, if you feel that you are better off retaking the class, the best thing to do is WITHDRAW.

Every course syllabus should include a rubrik that is helpful in calculating your progress in the course. This is a great way of keeping track of what grades you can expect to achieve based on your progress in the class.

One thing to remember if you are considerring dropping or withdrawing, is that it may change your financial aid status. ALWAYS consult the financial aid office before taking these steps. In some cases, this process can change one’s status not only for the dropped or withdrawn class, but also for other classes.

Another point of caution is that not showing up to class doesn’t constitute dropping or withdrawing. The registrar has forms that must be completed in order to process these actions. If you do not follow the correct procedure, you run the risk of WU or WN which both get averaged in to your GPA as fail (0.0).

I’m looking forward to a productive, enjoyable semester. I hope that we can create a dialogue that will be helpful to all of us!

If you have any topics that you would like me to address regarding student life, CityTech, and successful transition into your career, you can send me a message or post a comment!

Semester in Review

At the beginning of the semester, I had posted a detailed description of my three part plan for assuring my success this semester. At that time, I was asked to report how the semester had gone based on my plan to determine its effectiveness.

So here I will be summarizing the successes of this semester as well as the difficulties that I have encountered. I think it is important to note that I call them difficulties because I feel that as long as one learns from his or her mistakes, they are not failures, only difficulties. I will then try to analyze what aspects of the plan were helpful and which parts do may have contributed to my difficulties.

This semester I took three classes. A five credit nursing class, a four credit nursing class, and a speech class. At the beginning of the semester, I organized my schedule, accounting for one day of reading for all my classes as well as scheduling set amount of times for additional preparation, assignments, and studying. I also began the semester with a plan of sleeping at least 7 hours a night, allowing myself some time for leisure activity and emergencies which might arise.

There were a few things that I hadn’t counted in. In the past semesters, one day a week was enough to cover all of the material to be read for the week’s classes. Unfortunately, this semester the list of readings was a lot longer. Another thing that I had not worked into my schedule was the fact that each semester the classes require more intense studying, more assignments, and more reviewing.

The last aspect that I didn’t factor in was SPRING FEVER/SENIORITIS. I didn’t think about the fact that I might suffer burnout of some sort. I thought I wouldn’t need more than a few hours a week of leisure. And I didn’t realize the importance of taking care of myself.

So, you want to know how the semester went?

Obviously it’s too early for me to know my grades, but I’m pretty confident that I am going to pass all my classes this semester with a decent grade. This semester wa a hard one for me. I’ve learned what it means to fail a test, but I’ve survived that experience. I’ve learned what it feels like when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, but I’m learning to say “NO”. And I’ve learned that sometimes it’s ok to push off cleaning your apartment until after finals as long as you’ll get to it then.

So that was my semester! How was yours?