Winter is Here — How Students Can Finish Strong

This article was written by Darren Butler, a 2018 National Merit Scholar.


With the academic year coming to an end, most of us feel like Jon Snow here:

We feel you, Jon. We feel you…

However, we have come too far, completed too many assignments, and consumed too many cups of Starbucks to give up. With that said, let’s talk about how you can finish strong this semester.


Save your brain cells. Ask for help.

Sometimes, we don’t ask for help because we’re too proud or too afraid of wasting someone’s time. However, you have to be strong enough to admit when you’re overwhelmed and believe that your academic goals are important enough for someone to invest time in you. With project deadlines and finals approaching, there’s no time to waste. To alleviate the pressure from time constraints, I suggest visiting professors during their office hours or scheduling appointments, emailing them, seeking tutoring, or asking a friend who’s doing well in the course. If you have trouble speaking with professors here’s a template for asking questions.

I’m having trouble understanding X, can you explain Y, please?

I’ve tried this problem, but my answer is still wrong. Can tell me where I went wrong, please?

I’ve been working on X, can you give me some feedback on Y?

Most importantly, ask for help sooner than later. Professors are more open to helping you when it’s not last minute.

This is your Math final. It is real, and it is coming for you. Be ready.

 

Get out. Cut the nonessentials.

Checking my schedule, realizing I have three tests next week

We want to be great. We want to conquer. We want to do everything that we set out to do, but life isn’t always like that. Sometimes, we need to cut our losses with a project or activity if it is nonessential to our immediate goals. Here’s an example of how I cut out nonessentials from my schedule this semester. I had been pressured to rejoin some musical activity, so I joined a choir. While it was nice, my schedule was already filled with studying, NSBE events, the 100 Days of Code challenge, volunteering, applying to internships and research programs, research projects, and publishing on LinkedIn. After feeling overwhelmed, I realized I needed to give up something. After much thinking, I decided to let go of choir for several reasons:

 

  1. It didn’t fit into my immediate goals (maintaining a 3.5, creating a project portfolio, securing a summer internship, etc).
  2. I realized choir was a means of appeasing those who pressured me, not something I innately enjoyed.
  3. I realized that the time I spent in practice was the time I could use to work on my goals or do something to relieve stress.

The main point from this story is that we can’t do everything. Sometimes, we need to get out of activities that lock us in a cycle that prevents us from achieving our most important goals. As the semester comes to an end, remove anything nonessential to prevent burnout and finish the semester strong.

It may be difficult, but the struggle is worth it and the finale is almost here. As long as you ask for help and focus on the essentials, you’ll be fine. You are strong. You are persistent. You will be victorious.

I hope your semester ends this well. 😊

Finish strong! 💪


Darren Butler graduated as valedictorian from St. John’s College in 2018. As an advocate of technology for community development, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering. He serves as an active member and leader in the National Society of Black Engineers, Students of LinkedIn, and the Bahamas Engineering and Technology Advancement. Darren hopes to be a leader in be Bahamian technology sector and support STEM education in the Bahamas.

LinkedIn: Darren Butler | Twitter: @darrendbutler | Instragram: @darrendbutler

 


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