December 13, 2013

How Not to be a Hot Mess (Finals edition)

Remember back when it was warm and sunny and you weren’t quite yet a Rutgers student? During APA days and summer orientations, an enthusiastic group of Orientation Leaders helped guide you in learning more about this crazy place called Rutgers. Dean Frosh asked them to weigh in and help you prepare for your first semester of finals.

Here are their very best tips (there are many, but they are worth a careful read):

Do not skip meals, they give you the energy to productively study. - Atiya Gilmore

When I'm stressed or in the zone I often don't want to get up and go to the dining hall or I forget how long I've been studying for. Now I keep a few frozen meals, pretzels and hummus, and some fruit in my room to make sure I don't make that mistake.” – Amy Leah Joaquim

I found it really helpful to make To-Do Lists of things for the next day…as soon as I wake up, I know what I have to do and I hit the ground running. - Lakshay Gosain

If you take just an hour to just write down everything you have to do and lay it out it will seem much more doable and you won’t be stressed by keeping it all in your head. – Jade Gonzalez

To make sure that you are going to finish all of your work, there’s this App on smartphones called 30/30 that helps you stay on track with your to-do list with time management. It gives you countdowns and timers to finish your work but most importantly it helps you stay focused. – Larissa Rindosh

Do not cram. Cramming does not help you memorize information. Instead of studying for 12 hrs the day before a given final, study for that exam for 2-3 hours every day leading up to that exam. – Chris Price

Many times students like to put off studying because they say that leaving it for the last minute puts them under pressure and they work best under pressure. Unfortunately, I was one of those students who believed in this technique; however, in the long run, I was never fully prepared for my finals. - Meagan Walker

Don't write papers in one night. Once that I wrote a 10 paged paper in one night, and it was awful! Write a little at a time. – Andreana Barefield

I change my scene - I usually wake up early, eat breakfast and study on one campus, then in the afternoon I switch to a different campus so that I am not in one spot all day. I try to take a break after every 3 hours of studying. Sometimes I just take a walk around the library to wake me up. – Timyra Lister

Form study groups! It's a great way to make friends, and I often learn and retain much more when I talk through lessons aloud. You can also work together to create study guides to minimize the work you'd have to do solo! – Alexandra Wepner

Use wisely the time you have in-between exams. Your exam schedule might play out that you have one exam on the first day and then your last exam on the last day a week later, DON'T put off studying because you have sooo much time in-between! Take that time and each day do small amounts of studying to break up cramming one day before the final. – Jessica Fitzpatrick

Create a Cheat Sheet, not for cheating! Act as though you are allowed to bring a cheat sheet to the exam with all the key points and important pieces of information on it. Doing so will allow you to review while making the sheet and will also help you focus on what topics and concepts are necessary for the exam. – Justin Lucero
Don't use your studying time complaining about professors or classes or just chatting it up while you're supposed to be in a study group. Form study groups with people you study best with not people you have the most fun with. – Anthony Phillips

Work hard with no distractions for twenty five minutes and then reward yourself with something small such as checking a social media site (as long as you don’t stay on it for hours) or with a snack or whatever else that will take five minutes then go back to studying. This technique of studying is called the Pomodoro Technique and it works for me! - Jade

When trying to memorize something, don't just read it over and over again. Pronounce it loudly at the wall, or at your pillow, like you're trying to convince the inanimate objects around you of something. Sing it to the tune of "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus or come up with an absurd mnemonic device. This sounds ridiculous, but when you're taking that exam, your silly brain has a much easier time remembering things that were associated with something you already find easy to remember, like the melody of a pop song. – Andrew Harris

Here is a link to a more efficient way of studying as told by Psychology Today

When I have difficulty staying off of Facebook when I should be studying, I have a trusted friend change my Facebook password for me until I'm done with exams! That totally takes away the temptation. – Amy 

The do not disturb button on your phone and self-control app on your computer are good apps to use to block social media (If you have a smart phone the do not disturb can be found in your settings and you can just google self-control app and download it on your computer). - Jade 

Find a place where you can focus on your work without any distractions, like the library or a study lounge. I used to leave my dorm room door open all the time while I was doing work or studying and that usually resulted in me getting side tracked! - Virginia Cabrera

Take study breaks: this includes getting some fresh air, listening or dancing to some music, or anything that gets you moving out of from a seat or desk so that you can get refocused. - Jason Zomback

Don't watch TV or Netflix, but check emails or grab a snack, check in with friends or do a short workout/dance break. SLEEPING IS NOT A BREAK. Do activities that are short and that you won't get caught up in, but will help you release stress. – Geralyn Williams

Utilizing self-care and having an equal balance of study time and relaxation time is huge. That could mean anything from taking a walk, a nap, watching TV, having a good meal, etc. It helps me to have a balance so I don't burn out. – Stephanie Lanza

If you're having a particularly hectic day try to break it up with small moments of relaxation. Have a treat to promise yourself when you meet your goals. Mine is tea. When I hit a milestone, I always take 10 minutes to just sit, breathe, and drink a cup of tea. – Mariah Eppes

Be honest with how much you know and how much effort you have put into studying. But don't stress out too much, taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically will help you do better on exams, than any all nighter can. - Sara Miller

Have a positive attitude, don't let all this get to you. It's hard, exams are hard and studying is a lot but keep the positivity, it will be over soon and a month break is what you can look forward to! – Avril Betances

If you're wondering whether you should go to that review session, the answer is always yes. – Andrew

The advising centers, libraries and tutoring centers are all places that you can go to get help in some way as it pertains to finals. In addition, our campus organizations host many de-stress events to help students take a break from the hardcore studying and realize that a period of relaxation is also needed when preparing for finals! - Chris 

Stop in to see the Reference Dean at any SAS Advising Office if you have academic questions or problems; we're open 8:30-5 on weekdays through finals!

Set multiple alarms. I once slept through an exam. There are a lot of reasons for this, mostly that I had been cramming all night and hadn't really slept in a couple of days. When my alarm went off, I apparently just turned it off in my sleep. So set multiple alarms. Ask a friend to make sure you're up by a certain time. The more fail-safes you have, the less likely you are to miss an important exam. – Andrew

Keep calm and make sure you read every question thoroughly, at least twice, before answering. It's easy to make little mistakes. Think positive and always go with your gut's first choice! - Kerri Johnsen

And the BEST advice from your OLs: SLEEP!
SLEEP is the most important thing you need. You won't write good papers if you're counting sheep and pages at the same time – Geralyn Williams

When you don't sleep you can get sick, and when you get sick you will not be able to perform your best on exams. All-night cramming is not worth the risk! Going to bed at reasonable time before an exam will make all the difference.  - Jason

There are no benefits in being the starving, unshowered, zombie college student.   You can accomplish so much more when you give yourself some sleep and decent meals – Larissa

And finally: Don't take everyone's advice for granted, even mine; not everyone's tips work for everyone. You should think of what has and hasn't worked for you during the semester and try to incorporate that into your habits for finals. – Geralyn

Tremendous thanks to everyone who responded with such amazing good advice: Andreana Barefield, Avril Betances, Virginia Cabrera, Mariah Eppes, Jessica Fitzpatrick, Atiya Gilmore, Jade Gonzales, Lakshay Gosain, Andrew Harris, Amy-Leah Joaquim, Kerri Johnsen, Stephanie Lanza, Timyra Lister, Justin Lucero, Sara Miller, Anthony Phillips, Chris Price, Larissa Rindosh, Meagan Walker, Alexandra Wepner, Geralyn Williams, Jason Zomback