I think we’re about halfway through the fall semester, which is good because yay, the semester is almost over, but bad because that means we’re running out of time to save our asses in the classes we’ve fallen behind in. This semester is without a doubt my roughest semester yet. Like I said in my post on how to balance your academics with your work and social life, I’m taking seven classes, got a part-time job, took on an e-board position, and I’ve also got a few other things under my belt. So yeah, it’s a lot to handle and while I’ve pulled it together just enough to not feel guilty for taking a well-deserved break for a few hours during the weekends, I’ve definitely felt that at some point I wasn’t giving some of my classes the full attention that I should’ve been giving.
It’s important to not only avoid half-assing your major classes, but also avoid falling completely behind in their requirements. I know that’s easier said than done, but at this point in the semester, it’s especially important to make sure you can pick up any fallen pieces before they completely slip through the cracks. If you worry that you haven’t had the time or energy to dedicate to completing all assignments to your satisfaction, or if you simply haven’t been on track to complete your assignments read on for tips on how to deal!
1. Be honest with your professor about where you are.
Communicating with your professor at any point of the semester is extremely important. If you’ve noticed a pattern of you struggling to complete assignments, try to discuss this with your professor and see if they can give you tips on making the class more manageable. Also be honest about your other obligations from the start so they don’t write you off as being lazy or unprepared (which can, and does, happen!). For one class, I was having trouble properly doing an assignment and when I emailed my professor, I told her that my class and work schedule restricts me from being able to do any solid reporting during the day, which is the only time I can do my reporting for the assignment, and she was able to give me better advice.
2. Don’t wait for the last minute to ask for a deadline extension.
I know a lot of people complain that their professors are assholes for not giving them a deadline extension…on an assignment that was already due! Professors will 9.5 times out of 10 NOT be sympathetic to you if you wait until after the assignment is due to ask for an extension. You definitely do have five minutes to shoot the professor a quick email explaining your obligations/what will make it difficult for you to turn in a solid assignment on time, so don’t be mad if you get a big, fat ‘no’ two days after the paper or project was due. Try to ask a week before the assignment is due if you foresee yourself being unable to turn it in on time. The more notice your professor receives, the better. You’ll feel less stressed if you know you’ll have extra time to complete something.
3. Use the weekends effectively to catch up on work.
I do the bulk of my work during the weekends because I don’t have classes during the day to worry about, and it makes me feel more at ease just knowing that I have an entire day to use to the best of my ability to get work done. It depends on which assignments are more of a priority in the moment, but if your homework that week isn’t as hefty, try to catch up or get ahead on anything that you think will become a problem in the future. Or just try to put as much effort into the assignments you currently have.
For my graphic design class, I know that at the start of the week the professor usually asks us to turn in sketches for a project, so I use my time to make these ideas as detailed as possible so she has more to critique in class, and I’ll know exactly what I can do to improve it before turning in the final piece. This helps me expend far less time scrambling to perfect the final version before it’s due.
4. Designate specific days/times for working on assignments for a particular class.
If you’ve got a few hours in between your first two classes, you can use the time to start the homework you just got assigned in your first class, or make a habit out of doing tomorrow’s assignment during that time. Just establish a routine that you think you can stick to, and it will be easier to stay on top of your work. This can actually prevent you from falling behind in your classes.
5. Organize yourself.
Okay, this should probably be the first thing you do, but that’s cool. Whether it’s the first thing you do or the 10th thing you do, make sure you get organized! Use your favorite planner to jot down everything that’s due and anything that’s past due so you can think more clearly and devise a better plan for tackling those assignments. I always work better when I know exactly what I have to left to do, especially since it can be easy to forget about all the little assignments you have, and especially if it’s for a class you’re trying to not concern yourself with too much since you have other classes that are more demanding. But, it’s always the little things that get us, so be sure to use your planner so you know what to watch out for and what you need to pay more attention to.
6. Be realistic about how much work you can complete in any given time.
Dude, we’re only human! Finishing your entire to-do list on Saturday before 1a.m. sounds like a dream come true, but unless you have a really short to-do list, or your list consists of eating, sleeping, Netflixing, and repeating, you’re probably not going to do everything you intended. Setting goals that are unobtainable can actually cause you more stress if you find that you couldn’t complete them. Avoid this by assessing your situation and your schedule before you divide up your time amongst assignments. Your adviser can also help you do this, so don’t be shy about making an appointment or walking in.
I know you’re probably already stressing about falling behind, but stressing more does more harm than good. Take an hour to just breathe and watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show. Or, take an hour to just chill in bed and do everything but your homework—it’s completely fine! Clear your head so you can get back on track with a peaceful mind. I’m not a mediation master of finding peace, but I think this works. Plus, I sometimes find that just chilling energizes me to kick things into intense work mode and I get SO much stuff done!
What classes are you stressing about right now? How do you deal with them?