10 Tips to Help You Ace Your Finals

So you made it through your first round of final exams in the fall, but now it’s time to do it all over again! Although you survived last time, you might be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of studying you have to do, papers to submit, or group projects to finish. It is totally normal to feel this way as finals week approaches, just know there are steps you can take now to help reduce (some of) your stress. Below are my top 10 tips on how to help you ace your finals that I wish someone had told me my first year.

March (Midterm) Madness

Dear First Year Students,

The air is turning warmer, midterms are right around the corner, and your car is probably covered in a nice layer of pollen right now. Although the fear of tests is lurking around every corner, March can be one of the best months in Alabama. It brings perfect weather to head outdoors or just sprawl out on the Quad. Plus you are over halfway through the spring semester! Even though the weather outside may feel nice, the stress storm is on its way and it brings midterms and job applications. If you are going home for the summer, your parents may be sending hints that your favorite local places are hiring and if you’re staying in town the “now hiring” signs seem to pop up everywhere. It’s hard to relish in the beautiful outdoors with these things nagging in the back of your mind but trust me there is a way to get it all done.

New Month, New Stressors, New Strategies

Dear First Year Students,

It’s February and, although it’s technically the shortest month of the year, it somehow feels like the longest. Football season is over and the cold may tempt you to stay indoors which makes this month feel like a stagnant period. You’ve finally settled into your new classes, but just as you’re getting the hang of things, a multitude of new stressors have wriggled their way into your life. Suddenly, it’s time to start applying for internships and scholarships. Your friends have begun discussing roommate situations for next fall and many people have already signed leases to off-campus apartments. Juggling all of this in addition to the foreboding holiday of Valentine’s Day looming in the air can lead February to be an anxiety-filled month.  Having experienced all of these things, however, has led me to realize it’s not as bad as you think. Each of these problems and situations that arise in February is experienced by a lot of people and most importantly have solutions.

Ready, Set, Fresh Start for You!

Dear First Year Students,

Welcome back to The University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa! The spring semester tends to bring new opportunities and a fresh start. Last semester, if things didn’t go as well as you had hoped with academics or friendships, there is always the hope and excitement that comes with the new year! Many of you may be relieved to be back at school and not having to deal with the rules that come with living at home. Some of you may be stressing to find roommates and an apartment to live in next year. Others may be wondering how to meet new people or what to do on the weekends without football games. Whatever you may be experiencing, remember that you aren’t stuck in any situation permanently and things can always improve.

December: A Month of Mixed Emotions

Dear First Year Students,

Happy Holidays! December can bring with it a lot of mixed emotions. There is the excitement of the winter holidays approaching, but there is also the anxiety of finals that comes along with it. There are the positive feelings of being able to see family and hometown friends soon, but there is also the concern that things may or may not be the same when you arrive home for winter break. During your time at home you may have to deal with adjusting to old rules and routines that you haven’t had while living independently. Making those adjustments may potentially cause conflict with your parents or family. Navigating all of these feelings can be stressful, but rest assured that it is very normal to feel this way as the end of the semester approaches.

Thanksgiving Break – Family, Pie, and The Iron Bowl

Dear First Year Students,

It’s November, which means you are almost done with your first semester of college — wow, time flies! November also means that Thanksgiving is coming up. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What’s not to love? You get to eat lots of turkey . . . and mashed potatoes . . . and pie.  Thanksgiving might also be the first time you’re going home since moving to Tuscaloosa. For a lot of you, I’m sure that is quite exciting. I was certainly excited to be back home. But there are also some challenges that may come up.

So you “bombed” your first test…

Let me set the scene for you: I have been a straight-A student since I was in kindergarten. In high school I took all AP and honors classes, while juggling numerous clubs and sports, and maintaining a social life. The hardest I ever studied was for my AP exams and that usually consisted of me spending the entire day before the test cramming at a coffee shop. Schoolwork has always come easily to me, so when I went to Bama Bound the summer before freshman year I didn’t think twice about signing up for Honors Biology. A few days before the first test I made some flashcards—because I was in college now and wanted to start preparing “early” for my exams, and when I took the test I felt fine about it. I felt fine at least until I calculated my grade a few days later. I had failed my first test of college—and I mean FAILED. I immediately panicked wondering what I could have possibly done wrong. I went to all the class meetings, I did all the homework and readings, and I even began to study a few days in advance! After a night of crying to my parents over Facetime and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream, I decided that all I could do was try harder next time.

You’re Here…Now What?

You’ve been thinking about this day for years, preparing for it for months, counting down the days to it for the entire summer, and now here it is staring at you face to face. Move in day has finally arrived and on the surface you are probably bursting with joy, giddy with excitement about all the possibilities and freedom lying directly ahead of you! You’re a “college kid” now—you make your own schedule and play by your own rules! You can stay out all night and sleep in all day, and in a few months you’ll come home for the holidays with that “grown up glow” because you will have it “all together.” You have the perfect timeline for you freshman year: you’ll be best friends with your roommate, get into all the organizations you go out for, miraculously avoid the freshman 15, and make straight A’s while maintaining a great social life. You have it all planned out, and you’re on the fast track to success! That is until you watch your parents’ car disappear into the skyline headed back home and you’re standing on the curb of an unfamiliar dorm, at an unfamiliar school, surrounded by a terrifying number of unknowns, choices, and people you barely know.

Preparing for Life at The Capstone

Incoming Freshman,

Hello, it’s me again! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! In just a few short weeks, you will be an official student at the University of Alabama. At this point, many of you have already gone to Bama Bound and gotten a good taste of life at the Capstone. I hope it was an amazing experience full of new knowledge and new relationships. While at Bama Bound, there are several things we hoped you accomplished. First and foremost, you should have signed up for Fall 2017 courses using the Alabama course catalog. You also should have received additional help from Academic Advisors. Choosing classes may have seemed a bit stressful in the beginning, but it becomes easier each year. It is also important to remember that in case you change your mind or make a mistake, classes can be added and dropped until August 30th without receiving a “W”.