The bastion of rest, relaxation and carbohydrate-packing known as Thanksgiving break is over. Unfortunately, elbowing its way into our lives in the turkey-and-mashed-potatoes-laden wake of the November holiday is the rude reality of finals. In the spirit of this stress-laden sea- son, how can one best prepare for the deluge that is finals week in the time we have left?
Hopefully, you didn’t let your grades slip too far down in the interim between the first week back and now. If you did slack off a bit, now is the time to bite onto every shred of extra credit you can. Maximize the grades you get on assignments and exams from now until finals. While the teachers will hope you don’t do this all at the same time, at the last-second, it doesn’t hurt to go to office hours to brush up on what- ever you’re lacking a thorough understanding of (try to avoid walking in there with absolutely no basic understanding of the topic).
Having taught an entire class as a teaching assistant for one semester of my graduate school experience here at CSUSM, I can attest to the fact that professors structure their courses with the hope that their grand de- sign successfully makes the learning experience as seamless and effec- tive as possible. All professors (or perhaps the majority of them, at least) don’t want their students to fail. However, a professor can also make their class too simple and thus into an “easy-A”. The type of course that many students will want to take but which fails to teach anything of lasting value in their lives. The better alternative is when, after many hours of thought, consultation with peers and colleagues and exhaustive internet-searching; they come out of their academic hibernation bearing a challenging course requiring an active style of learning.
This style of learning facilitates true knowledge acquisition and fosters and develops the skills necessary to succeed in any course thereafter. Teamwork to achieve a collective goal as a group using the best of the sum of its parts, the ability to think and reason for oneself without exces- sively needing to rely on other people and so much more are the skills that help students long term. This is the dream. Yes, the reality often falls short, but we as teachers of the future thinkers of this world aspire to this dream in the classroom.
Lastly, don’t forget to take care of your mental and physical health, too. Drink plenty of water. Have study snacks with you to refuel and recharge. Take frequent breaks while standing up to prevent fatigue and boredom. Instead of resorting to caffeine, stand up and stretch to avoid falling asleep or maybe splash water on your face. Get enough sleep. Smile to help release some of the stress.
Remember my words, even as the stress of finals ensues: You can do this. Go make us and, more importantly, yourselves proud, Cougars! we believe in you all.