So here we are. The semester is over, the midterms and essays have been written, and the all-nighters have been had, sort of. Exam season is a special time here at UTM and much like Halloween, it brings out the zombie in all of us. Here are 10 things I know to be true about exam season.
1) Sleep goes out the window.
We think we’ll get more work done if we just take an extra hour to review something or finish an assignment, but this is definitely not the case.
My advice for you is to wait until the dust settles and get involved. More specifically, learn more about your program. First year is the best time to start learning as much as you can about what your program has to offer. Expand your research to potential employment opportunities and events you can attend that’ll help you learn more about what you can do with your degree.
Personally speaking, the CCIT program added several new classes over the years and the topics are always fascinating—surveillance, media archaeology, capstone (a class where you work with a real-life client to help them improve their business), to name a few.
For extracurricular activities, pursue ones that interest you or something that you’ve already dabbled in but want to learn more about. This includes exercising, eating free food, meeting new people, and just taking a break from class to have fun or help with volunteering for different campus initiatives.
First year is a time to get introduced into your program. It is also the time to learn as much as you can so you can properly prepare for your upcoming years.
One word: sleep. Say it with me now—sleep. S-L-E-E-P.
For me this is the first activity I cut down on when it comes to studying. Instead of the typical eight to nine hours a night, I start sleeping for four to five hours. This is a terrible idea. When you cut down the hours of sleep you should be getting, your body doesn’t feel rested.
I’ve heard it said that the best way to stick to a goal is to write it down. When you plan to do something, document the process. This is evidence. The next step is to post it somewhere visible. This is a constant reminder of what you’re working to accomplish.
Now get out a blank piece of paper and a writing instrument. Write down one thing you want to accomplish. I’m doing it with you.
Add the layers. Bundle up. If you don’t have a hat, gloves, and scarf, this is the time to invest in all three. The cold weather that makes Canada famous is starting, just in time for students to enjoy the frosty, bone-chilling—as some would call it (including me)— winds.
Yes, it is −30 degrees, but that isn’t a good enough reason to cancel school. On the bright side, especially when the sun is out, you are reacquainted with old friends. You have the opportunity to make new ones. It is a fresh and wintry start.
If you frequently check the Weather Network, you’ll notice radical drops in temperature, with subtle decreases. Does this mean we stay indoors? No. Realistically, would we like to? Most likely, probably, yes. When you feel walk around campus in the −30 degree weather, you start to wonder what’s wrong with the world, but should we shut ourselves in because of these chilly temperatures? No!
We all head to class, wait for the bus, and wonder how and why certain buildings aren’t equipped with heaters or still have the AC on… I mean really, it doesn’t need to be a sauna, but more cold—no, thank you.
Look for alternative routes to head to class. This is time to walk inside the CCT building rather than outside to head to IB, Kaneff, or the Student Centre.
Leave early, arrive early, and warm up.
For commuters, sadly, the shuttle buses aren’t heated and for some reason there is always that student who has to open the window and forgets to close it (don’t do this).
To make a possibly long blog post short, there is no escaping the cold weather and we can all enjoy complaining about the decreasing temperatures, but there is an easier way to start making things better. This doesn’t have to be a time of dreary, angry moments during a (soon to end) season.
Take control of what you want to do, regardless of the possible snowfall centimetres.
Time to curl up with that great book.
Get some coffee, hot chocolate, or another warm drink to heat up.
Head to the gym.
Spend time with some friends.
Take up a winter activity—skating, skiing, going to a warmer place.
Most importantly capture your cold moments. Look back in a few months and share the laughs, and the cries.
Professors understand the responsibility of postsecondary students. They have readings and assignments for multiple classes, studying, work, sleep, exercise, and hopefully time for socializing. So, to make things easier, they decide to ask students to demonstrate all that they’ve learned at the same time.
This month, as well as the next one, needs structure to keep things on track. Create a schedule, but don’t finalize it. Take the time to study and review notes, but keep an hour or two free.
Know What You Need to Study
Visualize this. Add the dates and times on a calendar.
What do you need to do for each class?
How long will it take (approximately) to complete? Manage this from now until the midterm.
Make sure you keep track of what’s completed.
Give yourself enough time to learn the information and review it. Flashcards, repeating key words, and rewriting notes.
What does the teacher repeat?
If you have any last minute questions, email the professor as soon as you have them, or a week before the midterm, for enough time to get a reply and review the material.
Prioritize What’s Important
This isn’t just school related. It includes time to sleep, eat, exercise, meet friends and family, and share the laughter, the joy, and the tears over all the work.
Now, not everyone can stick to a schedule. This is why it’s important to leave a few hours free to relax.
In terms of midterm preparation:
What is your first midterm?
Which parts of the course do you know best? Review it first and last.
What section(s) still needs work?
This isn’t about what you can put off. It’s about realizing what you can study and managing the time to learn it.
Also, multitasking can be counter-productive. You are viewing more than one thing and dividing your attention.
An Hour a Day
Take at least an hour a day for yourself. Just 60 minutes to do something relaxing. There is such a thing as studying too much and an overflow of information can lead to a collapse of sanity, sleep, and happiness.
Catch up on your favourite show, watch a movie, exercise, or listen to music. Something that’ll help you relieve stress.
The minute that midterms are over, it’s time to celebrate. Most people want to sleep and that is understandable. But what do you want to do more than anything, after all the hard work you’ve done?
This doesn’t have to wait until the end of all your midterms. You can reward yourself for finishing a chapter or your essay, or sticking to your schedule. Positive reinforcement will keep you motivated.
Create a Study Group
Dividing up the work and reviewing it with other people lessens the work you have to do and talking it over will help you learn the material.
You can come up with possible questions, ask for help, go over notes, and quiz each other.
The year 2015 and the midterms—with multiple tests within the same week or day just hours apart—show no signs of slowing down or getting more manageable, so take these scheduling tips and strive for nothing but the best.
There’s a phrase for university students: “I’ll sleep when I graduate”, and it is an ironic joke—mostly because, sadly, it’s true. We tell ourselves it’s a few more minutes, you’ll make up the time later, but when you finish your work you realize an hour or more has passed. By morning, if it’s an all-nighter, you’re tired and you have to get over it and attend class. You may find yourself falling asleep halfway through, which disrupts your learning process. You don’t take notes, you’re too tired to focus, and you miss the lecture.
It happens to all of us. Missed alarms, hectic schedules, chasing buses, slow people in the hallway, and that coveted cup of coffee are just a few things that have led us to this epidemic. When you walk into class late, there is a good chance the room is pretty much filled, so there are a few people who will stare at you as you make your way to an empty seat. Well, I’m here to let you know, this doesn’t have to be the case.
You don’t have to be a dishevelled, tired, zombie student. Own the room. Become memorable in the best way possible. In order to do that, let’s identify the type of late comer you are.
Are you the:
Undeclared Rocker – Walks in, not paying attention to anyone, music is blaring so loud he or she unintentionally draws attention to them.
Coffee Caller – It starts with one, but soon they all come. The coffee rangers strut in one after the other and we know why they’re late. That coveted coffee cup is in their hand.
Juggler – Papers, notebook, laptop, iPad, cell phone. Struggling to hold onto everything while they fix their hats, scarves, and scan the room for a seat.
Tech Guru – Cellphone: Check. Headphones: Check. Possible high-tech watch: Maybe. Definitely an iPad or tablet. They sit down, take out their laptop, charge their phone, and have ten different screens up. They might even be recording the lecture.
Late Class Comer – This person is most likely coming from another class in another building.
Adjusted Student – They woke up on time, or they’re having a great day. They have a large smile on their face as they walk in, quietly apologizing as they find a seat.
I’m sure we’d all like to aim for the adjusted student, but that isn’t always possible.
Recently, I was five minutes late as a white van in front of my express bus decided to have a leisurely ride at 8:55 am. Three cars behind the van switched to the left lane to keep their sanity and the express bus was stuck behind the van. When the bus turned in to UTM, it was 8:59 and my class happened to be in IB and of course, the room was full. Luckily, I saw an empty seat and dashed to it as soon as I walked into the room.
This brings up the first tip when walking late into a classroom: Scan the room for seats. Look around to see if there are any empty spaces.
Second: Fast walk—don’t run or jog—but fast walk. It’s like you’re slowly rushing to your seat. It’s quick and graceful.
Third: For the students who have one class after another in another building, pack up five minutes before the class ends. You aren’t going to be late and you probably haven’t missed anything important from the previous lecture.
You can also send a quick email to your professor asking them to repeat what they’ve said, or head to their office during office hours to clear up anything you might have missed.
Or, pack up most of the things you need and leave a pen and notebook or small piece of paper to jot down any last minute notes.
For the jugglers: Carry something small and no less than three things. Make sure it’s not a laptop, unless that’s the only thing you’re going to carry. Rushing to class when you’re late is already a tough task. Make it easier on yourself by carrying less items.
Now, for the late-comers in general, here’s what you do: Take five minutes to get yourself together. Fix your hair, take deep breath, have a drink of water, and relax before walking into class. When you walk in, all eyes may or may not be on you, but walk in with confidence. Instead of scurrying to the nearest seat, scan the room and look for a place to sit. And if you catch a glimpse of the professor, quickly apologize for coming late. You can mouth the words or apologize after class and briefly explain your situation. An email is good enough too.
We can’t always help if we’re late, but we can make the best of the situation and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Welcome to Canada, where having a jacket is a birth right. Going to school in more than 5 cm of snow (or most likely more) is nothing new for students attending Canadian schools. As for snow days, if you can manage to somehow drag yourself to school, then that, unfortunately, means someone else can drag themselves too, meaning: No snow day.
So, how do you know what to expect? First, check the weather. Start with the temperature, which can be colder depending on the wind chill. Then there’s the wind blowing at a freezing km/h from what seems like every direction.
Everyone is staring at you. Your hands start shaking. Your heart beats faster. Eyes stare at you, a smartphone, or the clock, while you eye the nearest exit. Why shouldn’t you run out of the room? One reason: You’ve got something to say. OK, so maybe it’s a school assignment and you hate the topic or the class, or you hate speaking in public; maybe you’re first to present and you hate being first. The list is endless. But public speaking is a part of life. It won’t go away after you graduate and neither will the audience.