The 2020 spring semester has been one of change, upheaval, and emotional turmoil for staff, faculty, and especially students. It has also brought about innovation and shown us that we can be together, no matter how far apart we are in a physical sense. Finally, it has once again shown us how strong our students are. The way that they have stood strong against admitted adversity inspires us. That is why we know in our hearts that they want to end their academic semester on a high note. In light of that, today we would like to share some tips that can help them do just that in a time of non-traditional finals with distinctly different expectations.
Before we get into the tips though, we would like to acknowledge that not every student learns the same way or benefits from identical study or organizational methods. We are all individuals, and we encourage you to adapt these tips to your liking, or leave behind what doesn’t serve you in your academic journey.
Consider your environment
Focusing in becomes distinctly more difficult when you find yourself in an unfamiliar space or environment. As the remote learning period has been exactly that, a learning period, we hope that you have done an intake on what makes you, as an individual, more comfortable and productive.
Assistant Dean of Academic Success Brittany Potter says, “The first step in aiming to stay focused, especially during a time like this, is to be realistic with your new study environment and mostly, be realistic with yourself. Many studies state that one’s environment plays a significant role in how to stay focused. This is even more important during a time like this. Typically, you would be able to walk to a destination of your choosing if you were on campus. Now, you are confined to your home environment, which looks different for everyone.”
She continues, “In order to stay focused, I encourage every student to understand their surroundings. Assess if working near a window helps or if studying with a little noise helps. Do you like listening to music? Do you like listening to other members of the household work? Does eating a snack help to motivate you to get through your readings? Environment matters!
“As I mentioned earlier, it is important to stay realistic with yourself. In order to do that, it takes reflecting on what you have accomplished this semester and during this remote learning period. Things have changed, and therefore, it only makes sense that your study habits and productivity will change as well.”
Know your limits
In a new or less-than-ideal environment, even completing small tasks can seem daunting. In order to continue to be your best self on all levels, take the time to note that your expectations of yourself may need to change.
Potter says, “In an in-person learning environment maybe you were able to tackle eight to-do list items in a day. Today, that expectation should change. You should start by setting small daily goals. In order to set small daily goals, think about all of your distractions and the change in your environment. Next, write down four small goals that you believe you can achieve and follow that list the following day. This will be a trial and error experience that allows you to better understand if that list was too small, just right, or too large for your new environment. Creating small daily goals allows you to be more realistic while also setting yourself up for success.”
Find a balance
As Endicott College is a school, of course we want you to focus on academics, but we do understand that relaxation is an equally important consideration for overall well-being. Potter says, “After making your small daily goal list, it is important to balance it out with relaxation time. In order to be realistic with yourself, know that you deserve time to do things that help you destress. It is more important than ever to purposefully take time to decompress. This will allow you to be more motivated when it is time to tackle schoolwork.”
And remember—when you do accomplish something, reward yourself! For every school-based task, consider allowing yourself time for fun or relaxation. Using a system of reward can greatly increase your willingness to forge forward academically.
Find your “Center”
If you need assistance, though we aren’t together in person, we are here for you! Make sure to take advantage of the Endicott Tutoring and Writing Centers.
Our Tutoring and Writing Centers are open until the last day of school, which is Friday, May 15. Students can use the Centers to review course material prior to an exam, discuss an outline for a final paper, and work on time management.
Potter says, “If a student makes an hour-long appointment with a tutor, typically, they will work on an assignment for that hour and then continue to work on it after the session ends because it is fresh in their mind. Additionally, the tutoring services that are available can allow students to talk things out with a trained tutor who is there for support. During this remote time, all tutoring sessions are being conducted through Google Meet.”
No one is an island. Beyond resources like the Tutoring and Writing Centers, make sure to stay connected with other people. Even in the best of situations, “finals season” can mean a lot of time focused solely on academics, sometimes at the cost of mental or physical health. Don’t let that happen to you.”
Potter says, “A lot of students tend to only focus on academics during the last few weeks of the semester. However, it is much more important to take time to eat, destress, and use self-care methods. During this time, students should not change their schedule due to larger academic pressures, they should try to keep it as regular as possible.”
She continues, “Use your family. If there is someone you trust to hold you accountable once you set up a study schedule, utilize them. Having a confidante that you can rely on to hold you accountable to achieve the goals you set for yourself is perfect for this remote learning experience.”
Reaching out is not only a solid strategy for accountability for you—it’s a good choice for others in similar positions. Potter says, “In addition to your family members, you should also use your classmates and friends from college. They are the easiest individuals to use because they totally understand what you are going through. Utilize your classmates to hold you accountable as well. You can make tests or quizzes for one another, and virtual study groups can keep things light and fun by incorporating socializing with studying.”
Be true to you
It is important to note that the term “finishing strong” means something different to each student. It goes without saying that this time of remote learning and social distancing has forced students to be strong.
Potter says, “The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word strong as ‘able to withstand great force or pressure.’ During this time, ‘finishing strong’ means pushing through the current personal and academic pressures over the next two weeks. Being strong does not mean to do things on your own without support. Being strong during this time means to be more honest with yourself than ever before. Asking for help from your professors, classmates, family members, friends is a prime example of showing strength during this time.”
She continues, “Since finishing strong is different for everyone, I challenge each student to think of two end-of-semester goals that would allow them to feel like they have persevered through this challenging time. Maybe you want to complete all of your assignments on time, maybe you want to earn above a 75% on your exams, maybe you want to study and prepare as hard as possible, no matter the grades you earn. Goal-setting allows you to create your own ‘finish strong’ anthem. Ask yourself, what does finishing strong mean to me and how can I achieve this in a week?”
Know that Endicott has your back
Ultimately, as students prepare for the final week of the semester, we hope they know that all of us who work at Endicott are here for support. We acknowledge that this time is uncertain and extremely stressful. If there is one thing that hasn’t changed, it is that Endicott will always put the students first. It didn’t take a pandemic for our institution to know that our students are the most important members of our community. During this challenging time, we are here for you and are so proud of how resilient you have all been.