BY ALEXA CHERRY
For the UAS Whalesong
At times, despite my best intentions to the contrary, I will find myself struggling to come up with ideas for article topics. I know – a shocking confession, but a fact of my life nonetheless. On the rare occasion when this happens, I end up on Google at one in the morning, scouring various websites and search results for article and blog ideas. In doing so, I have learned that the writers for BuzzFeed apparently get their article ideas the same way. (“Make a post full of GIFs!” one website proclaimed. “Build a list!” Even “post clickbait!” I know your secret, BuzzFeed, and I’m coming for you.) Anyway, that’s what spawned the article you see before you now. As much as the suggestion “Get some billionaire to write a post for you – they love the exposure!” appealed to me, I’m unfortunately not friends with any billionaires. Not yet, anyway. College is, after all, just the first step in my career path. Anyway, I decided to combine two of the prompts that StartBloggingOnline.com offered – “Show others how to do something extremely FAST” (their caps lock, not mine) and “Compile a list of common mistakes in your niche” – and give you some finals week advice from a college senior.
My first piece of advice is something you probably already knew, and have been told multiple times by plenty of different people, and likely don’t want to hear again, but I am honor-bound by the laws of time, space, physics, and advice columns everywhere to tell you: don’t procrastinate. Especially if you have a test or an assignment that is worth a significant part of your grade, you don’t want to be panicking and trying to study for it at the last moment. I know I mentioned showing you how to do things fast, but studying is not something you can or should do fast. Even if the first thing you do is just buy a set of index cards to use to make flash cards, or open a new document for rewriting your notes in, or make a list of what you need in order to complete your assignment, do it now. It will save you a lot of grief later. There are few things more stressful than thinking you had the time and resources to complete something shortly before it was due, and then realizing that was not the case at all. I’ve learned from my mistakes. Now I’m passing my knowledge on to you. Love yourself and plan ahead.
My second piece of advice is something I learned from a professor regarding speed-reading. I can tear through a book I’m fascinated with or a 100k fiction piece I found on an internet writing website in a matter of a couple of hours, but when it comes to textbooks, even just 30 pages is a slow and painful slog. If the same can be said for you, then you know what a problem it can be, especially if you ignored my first piece of advice. Fortunately, the aforementioned professor told my classmates and I the following: when you find yourself with a lot of reading to do in a minimal amount of time, try reading the full opening and closing paragraphs of the material, and read the first and last sentences of each paragraph in-between. This is obviously a tactic to be used for reading academic writing, not creative writing – and, as a disclaimer, I cannot speak to the effectiveness of this technique. But I did hear it from someone who’s been through grad school, so he probably knew what he was talking about.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: treat yourself. Maybe not too extravagantly, since we’re coming up on Christmas and you never know what people are going to get you off your wish list. But if you think you did well on that test, or you finished that paper in time, or if you aced your presentation, or even if you’re stressed out and hyped up and still studying for stuff, recognize that you worked/are working hard and give yourself a little something-something! Maybe it’s that key chain you’ve been eyeing for a while. In my case, it’s generally my excuse to get an exorbitantly fancy coffee at Spike’s for no real reason apart from my affection for café coffee. (If you’ve been following my articles this semester, you will know that I own both a French press and a Keurig and therefore have little to no excuse to buy coffee from anyone, anywhere else, ever.) Regardless, sometimes you just either need a treat to motivate yourself, or deserve a treat for succeeding, or both. We are all young adults on our own, here – if you don’t treat yourself, who will?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: sleep. Even if you need to pull the allest of nighters, try to get in at least a 2-hour nap at some point. Sure, it’s not a full night, but it’s better than nothing, and at this point in the semester, that’s something to strive for. Work hard now, nap hard later – and as a reminder, the 3rd-floor couches in Egan Library are an A+ napping location.
That wasn’t all the advice I had to give, but it’s all I can fit in this article for the time being. Thanks for listening, and good luck on your finals! If you’re interested in more articles like this one (advice from a college senior), be sure to send a Letter to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.