Staying Ahead this Semester

A funny thing about New Year’s resolutions is how much they sound like our platitudes at the beginning of new school semesters. Tell me whether you’ve heard any of these, or said them yourself, before.

“This term, I’m going to write actual drafts of my papers.”

“I promise: no all-nighters this semester.”

“I solemnly swear that I will not need to cram for an exam.”

I think we take to these platitudes for two reasons. First, we’ve managed somehow to skate by, despite our bad studying and writing habits, this far, so no existential fear of failure (or academic probation) is instigating a change. And second, they seem so easy! How difficult does it really seem to commit to spending an extra two-hours a week recopying notes, or to starting a paper two nights earlier than usual to get out a rough draft? But therein lies our problem: the commitments seem small, and nothing forces us to keep to them, allowing work to build up and making incremental changes that much less helpful.

If you find yourself making these new-semester resolutions, but with an inkling that they might not last the term, we have a couple of tips to help you keep them going—and to make things a lot easier once finals roll around.

Simple and Regular

Charles Duhigg discusses the nature of habits, their development, and roll in our lives in his book The Power of Habit. He defines habits as behaviors that we perform so regularly that it no longer feels like choosing to take those actions. End-of-term exams and essays are cumulative experiences, so preparing differently for them is going to be progressive: instead of making one big change, take Duhigg’s insight and consider that you’re going to have to change your habits. So work on habits that are simple and regular, things that won’t feel onerous when you know you need to do them, and that you can do often enough to incorporate into your existing routine.  

Try this, or something like it. After your last class on Thursday or Friday, head to the library instead of your dorm or apartment. Take exactly one hour and try to recopy your notes from the week. You probably won’t get through everything—though you may get into the work enough that you want to get through all of your classes—but that’s not the point. The point is to refresh yourself on the material from earlier in the week and to start to generate summaries, both on paper and in your own mind, that will be invaluable when it’s time for mid-terms and brainstorming essays.

If you need help, get it—early!

College can be competitive, making asking for help more difficult than it should be. So if you know you’ve needed tutoring or essay revision and writing help in the past, don’t wait until the last minute to get it. That ‘strategy’ will ultimately cost you more money, make it less likely that a tutor or service can make time for you, and be less effective in preparing you for an exam or essay.

Starting early with a writing service like Assignment Help Club is one good option. You’ll get the most quality time with your writer, plenty of time for revisions, and because demand is lower earlier in the term, you’ll get the best price. But these benefits accrue to a variety of study strategies: whether your scheduling meeting at your school’s writing center, organizing a study group, or signing up for your TA’s office hours, looking earlier for the help you need will ease your path throughout the term.

And as always, AHC is here to help. Let us know what projects you’re staring down, and we’ll be glad to help with a schedule that fits your needs.

 

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