I just have to say it. I hate school right now. This isn’t me at all. But I am literally in the midst of the semester from hell. And I don’t say that lightly. That’s not to say that I don’t have a class or two that I enjoy. But the other two are overworking me, and to be honest I don’t care much about them either.
I am a chronic lover of learning. Learning everything to be exact. I’m always looking to soak up some new knowledge. Which is why I usually get really excited about school. Going to class, taking an exam (because I know I’m going to ace it), doing homework, you name it. I’m on it.
But not this semester.
And I don’t typically write naggy, complaining posts either. But I had to get this one out. I have said, probably on a weekly basis, that I hate school this semester a lot. Like a lot, a lot. And it is not fun. I’m not used to being behind on my work, struggling to get everything in on time, and worrying about the grade I’m going to get back.
But, in spite of this, I wanted to share with you a few things that I’ve been using to push through to the end (even if I’m only at the middle right now) and finish the semester out strong. Even if it’s not as strong as I hoped for.
Saving the Semester from Hell
I desperately need a saving grace from this semester. I am in two high-level courses and two filler courses just so that I can graduate on time. But the high-level courses, even though I’m in an Associate’s program, aren’t structured like your average 2-year degree course.
They’re difficult. And for me to say that a class is difficult takes a great deal of difficulty. I enjoy a challenge when it comes to school. But this semester from hell is making me second guess everything. Everything!
I’ve gotten next to no enjoyment out of this semester and the only thing pushing me to continue is the fact that I have one semester left until I am done. And it’s an easy one.
But for a little extra push, these 13 things have seriously saved me this time.
13 LifeSavers During A Semester From Hell
Todoist App/Chrome Extension
I’m a to-do list queen. But nothing gets me more motivated to get work done that my Todoist app. I can download it on my phone and they have an awesome chrome extension that allows me to keep a synced list everywhere. If you jot down homework assignments as they’re thrown at you, you absolutely need this.
Todoist allows you to set a due date, color code by project, class, or life role, and it even gives you Karma points for each task you complete!
Okay, so the points don’t really do anything, but it’s nice to get rewarded for “adulting.”
Coffee, Coffee, & More Coffee
Hey, I didn’t say this whole post was going to be totally serious. I mean I seriously drink a ton of coffee but to each her own.
My Day Designer Planner
Planner girl here. And I have to have a planner no matter what. It helps me manage all of my regular responsibilities so that none of them accidentally overlap. And my Day Designer does just that. It’s a day planner, so I can plan out each day by the hour.
This helps me leave time for myself and for the family in between all of my to-dos.
My Thrive: Feel Stress-Free Thought Trainer
This app is incredible. I’ve only been using it for a couple of days but I love it already. The idea behind Thrive: Feel Stress-Free is to retrain your automatic thoughts from negative to positive. It is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it allows you to identify your triggers and specific stressors.
But not only does it help you identify them, it helps you learn to cope with them in a healthy way. Thought training is a big part of psychotherapy, no matter what you’re being treated for. And for me, it is the one part of therapy that I need the most.
I’m happy to be using this app, and you should definitely give it a chance too. Especially if you’re caught in a semester from hell just like me. It’s been helping me regain my sanity when it comes to my coursework and my life.
Spending Time on Self-Care
Of course, as a mental health advocate, I have to take a moment to talk about healthy self-care activities. Because if I didn’t take some time for me each day (okay, more like every other day with this semester) then I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I already have.
Taking time for yourself is crucial, especially as a mom and/or busy college student. But if you aren’t doing activities that promote positive self-thought, then you may not be doing it right. The best self-care activities for increasing positive self-thought are things like journaling, exercising, meditation, and volunteer work. Some positive self-care activities can also give you time to let your mind clear such as playing with your kids (if you have them), drawing, painting, reading, or even writing.
My Graduation Plan
A big thing that helps me keep the end within my line of vision is having a clear graduation plan. I know what classes are required for my degree program and I track my completion of these classes.
Because of a previous degree, I had a lot of credits that transferred to my current program. So I used special markings to mark them off. If it is a class I took during this program, I marked the grade next to it so I can also keep track of my GPA on my own.
By having the required courses and completed courses written out and easily accessible, when it comes time to think about registering for the next semester I already know where I’m headed.
This helps me keep my eye on the end goal. Not the storm in between.
Online Groups and Communities
Sometimes, all you need is to know that someone else is also feeling the same type of way. Yeah, I feel like I’m in the semester from hell right now. But I’m not the only one. And sometimes it helps to connect with other people who are on the same journey you are.
Facebook groups, in my opinion, can be the best part about Facebook. Especially if you’re an introvert like myself. I am horrible at going out and making new friends at school. So connecting with other women in college, albeit through Facebook, I feel more at ease with the struggles I’m facing.
My all-time favorite Facebook group for women in college is the Women in College Support Group. Of all of the groups I participate in on Facebook, this is the most supportive group I’ve ever found. There is hardly ever any negative feedback or comments made on people’s posts and the admins to an excellent job of keeping it under control.
A couple of the other groups I occasionally participate in are Your Mom Goes to College and College Moms Support Group. Because I’m a mom in college, sometimes I need to connect with other moms who are just as crazy as I am. They are smaller groups and are a bit newer to the grouping thing, but they’re still helpful.
My Dedicated Study Space
Do I move from time-to-time, sure. But I have a dedicated work space for when I’m working on homework (or even my blog). This helps so much because it is my space and I keep it neat and organized, well, usually.
Plus, it has trained my brain to go into work mode whenever I’m at my study spot. This way, I know that when I sit down to work I’m actually ready to get work done. I don’t sit at my desk when I’m doing crafts, drawing, or anything else because I’ve chosen this space to be a work-zone.
Taking a Day Off
I have a ton of work to do for this semester. I mean a ton. Regularly. I don’t think I’ve had a week yet where I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount I had to do. But I didn’t let that stop me from taking at least a day off each week.
Just as your body needs a rest day when you exercise regularly, your brain needs a rest day (or two) when you study regularly. Between in-class lectures, online courses, and all of the reading assignments, I’m surprised I have time to do the assignments I’m given. But I do them. And I still take a day off because if not I’d be fried.
Remembering Why I’m In This
In the midst of the stress, it’s easy to lose sight of why you signed up for college in the first place. I like to remind myself of my dream career and my career goals when school gets too overwhelming.
This helps ease some of the stress. It reminds me that I’m doing this for a reason. Good can come of all this madness, I just have to buckle up and enjoy the ride. Because when it’s all over, I mean actually all over, the grad school and everything, I’m pretty sure I’ll miss it.
Sometimes You Have to Worry About the Work, Not the Grade
Yeah, I said it. I know that can be hard to hear. I’m a perfectionist by nature and getting anything less than an A can send me into a fury. But this semester has taught me to loosen the reigns a little.
We can’t all be good in all the things. Take, for example, myself and history courses. Nope. That’s a big no. I just can’t master the art of memorization. And since it’s extremely different to apply the information learned in a history course, I struggle.
And my struggle I mean I’m drowning. My first week of this course I was a nervous wreck. How was I going to get an A? Trust me I tried. I couldn’t drop the class and it fills a requirement for my degree. But I’m horrible at it.
It took me a couple of weeks, but I finally realized that I had to stop looking at my final grade, and just worry about getting the work done each week. Do I still want to pass? Oh, hell yeah. But I’m not as worried about getting an A. At this point, I’ll settle for a low B. And I’ll live!
Asking For Help
This isn’t something that comes easy for me at all. But I broke down this semester. I didn’t want to fail my class, so I decided to ask for help. I decided to ask my campus tutoring department, and the professor herself.
All I wanted was to know that I was doing everything I could to ensure me the best grade I could possibly get. And you know what, I felt a lot better after asking for help.
You don’t necessarily have to ask a professor or the tutoring service though. Find someone in class that you may have connected with and see if they’d be willing to study with you. They may even be able to help you grasp the information better. Sometimes two heads really are better than one.
I’ve covered college organization here at LFSM before, but it is so important for managing a semester from hell that it’s worth mentioning again. I’m, by nature, an organized person. But I know that having a hectic schedule sometimes gets in the way of that.
Having all of my course notes and handouts neatly organized really helps me when I sit down to study or work on assignments. I like to use one binder with dividers to keep everything in one place. This also helps me when I go to school. It ensures that I am always prepared for the right class.
Color-coding my notes is also important because when it comes time to study, it makes it easy to identify the most important information and topics covered. I even use a specific color to mark pieces of information that my professors have mentioned will be on the exam.
Something to Remember
College is important for your future, but how much do you think your GPA is going to matter once you’re out in the “real world.” Not very much actually. Achievements during college, maybe, but they hardly ever ask for your college GPA.
It’s just one semester, it will end. I promise. But if you’re feeling the same way for all of your semesters, it’s quite possible that you’re in the wrong program of study. Try talking to your advisors to see if maybe there is a different route that you may be better suited to.