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6 Problems You Face at the End of Every Semester (& How to Deal)

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Can we just take a moment to reminisce about the beginning of the semester? Everyone was returning to campus full of excitement and hope. Now? Not so much. You haven’t even had time to notice that the weather is starting to change because you’ve been holed up in the library. Yes, the semester is officially coming to an end. With this conclusion comes a plethora of problems. Don’t worry, though—we’re here to provide solutions. While we can’t guarantee your life will be as easy as it was during syllabus week, if you’re dealing with any of the following, we’ve got you covered.

1. Running out of money

Are those cute budgeting printouts that you found on Pinterest still sitting on your desk, unused? Don’t feel bad—it’s easy to plan on carefully handling your money throughout the semester, but unless you actually get in the habit of doing so, you’ll end up spending until your bank account says zero. “There is no universe in which budgeting is fun,” says Julie Zeilinger, author of College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year. “But it’s truly necessary.”

Zeilinger recommends a couple of different approaches, like taking advantage of budgeting apps such as Mint. With Mint, you can connect your debit and credit cards, checking and savings accounts and even monitor your student loans and interest. The point is to track your spending, and Mint makes it super easy with a variety of graphs and lists. Mint isn’t the only app of its kind, though. There are plenty of other money saving apps worth checking out! “It’s worth noting, [they’re only helpful] when you actually use and stay on top of them,” Zeilinger says.

The second method that Zeilinger suggests is calculating how much money you can comfortably spend in a week, taking out that amount in cash at the beginning of each week and trying to avoid the use of a debit or credit card. Only try this if you have a safe and secure place to keep the cash!

Related: 15 Hard Decisions You Make Every Day in College

2. Studying for finals

No matter how overstated it is, the fact remains that finals are the worst. If you find yourself frustrated because you don’t know how to study, it’s important to understand that you’re not the only one. “Most people seem to take for granted that students inherently know how to study in a way best suited to their particular learning style,” Zeilinger says. “The truth is, knowing how to study is an individualized skill that’s hardly self-evident and should be approached as such.”

That being said, each time you study, try out a different method and a new location. Attempt to study the following ways to see which works the best: alone, with a friend or with a group. The main thing to figure out is how and where you’re most productive. Experiment with study groups, use flashcards on your own, visit a coffee shop—anything that you think might be beneficial when preparing for finals. “There’s no perfectly effective way to approach studying, and holding yourself to some universal standard you think is ‘right’ could very well be the least effective for you,” Zeilinger says.

While everyone may have different study habits, Zeilinger says that there’s one thing that shouldn’t be negotiable: when you start studying. “Cramming always seems like a good idea but is never effective,” she says. “Start early and try to break up studying into manageable chunks of time so that it never feels overwhelming and you have time to reach out to professors or peers with questions.” It’s time to ditch those last-minute all-nighters!

3. Staying on track

Motivation? We’re not sure if that’s even a real thing at this point in the school year (especially when it comes to attending morning classes). However much it sucks, we still have to finish the semester strong. There’s no point in doing damage to your GPA when you’ve worked so hard to maintain it.

One way to motivate yourself actually has to do with treating yourself. Caitlin, a junior at the University of New Haven, created a genius way to ensure she gets her work done. “I try to make myself daily lists of things I need to accomplish,” she says. “Surprisingly, this motivates me a lot more since I see what needs to get done, rather than just thinking about it. If I accomplish everything on my list, I treat myself to a relaxing night of binge-watching Law and Order: SVU!” #TreatYourself

Abigail, a junior at the University of West Florida, finds planners and apps to be useful for staying on track with school. “I’ve been a big fan of Google Calendar,” she says. “It reminds me when I have to do things automatically on my phone, which means I can devote more brainpower to my exams!” WunderlistJotNot and other organization apps are also extremely helpful!

Related: How You Feel on Exam Day, As Told by ‘Parks and Recreation’ 

4. Waiting to hear back from internships

You crafted the perfect resume and mastered every cover letter, collected a worthy amount of recommendations and maybe even nailed a couple of interviews. So why haven’t you heard back from any companies? The waiting game can be super stressful, especially when you want to start planning your summer right away. Obsessively checking your email every day isn’t helping, either.

Before you consider following up, check if the position has a rolling deadline. If that’s the case, the company has tons of applications to sort through, so give them time! Also, if you applied before the deadline, wait until after the deadline has passed to reach out to the company.

If neither of these applies to your situation, you should definitely follow up with whomever you submitted the application to or the company’s HR team. “You might feel annoying, but following up on a position shows that you’re determined,” says Jessica, a junior at Ohio State University. “I usually wait at least two weeks before emailing or calling, but after that, I check in at least once a week.” Just remember to be polite, and reiterate your interest for the position!

5. Asking for extra credit

The key word with this is “asking,” as opposed to “receiving.” As the semester’s end draws closer, more and more students are beginning to show up to their professor’s office asking for extra credit. To say it’s not guaranteed is an understatement!

If you do want to take a risk for a little grade boost, though, you should try. Hannah, a teaching assistant at the University of Kansas, recommends first reaching out to your professor over email to schedule an in-person meeting. “Doing this is much better than just showing up to their office hours—especially when you haven’t been once all semester,” Hannah says.

You should also come prepared. “Don’t just say, ‘Can I have some extra credit?’ Think of a couple things that are similar to the assignments you’ve been doing in class and suggest those,” Hannah says. Be ready to have a conversation, not just a quick exchange.

6. Self-care

Trying to pack up your dorm room or find a sublease for your apartment on top of the pressure of finals may lead to neglect, both of your physical and mental health. “‘Self-care’ has become something of a buzzword recently, but I’ve found that consciously taking the time to do something relaxing and even mindless is key to being at your best and sharpest when it’s most crucial,” Zeilinger says. 

With that in mind, it’s not only acceptable, but actually recommended that you spoil yourself with a relaxing Netflix night! If you can’t do that without feeling like you’re wasting time, do some yoga or visit the campus gym. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and better your overall health.

If you don’t take care of yourself during these last few weeks of school, you’ll only be left much worse off by the time summer hits. “Don’t wait until you’re completely burnt out; make sure to incorporate relaxing, self care practices into your routine,” Zeilinger says. Find what you like, and make the time for it.

As much as we wish we could just fast forward to break, that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, you might as well finish the semester to the best of your ability. Persevere through the next few weeks, and remember: the harder you work now, the more you get to celebrate later!


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