When the school year kicks off in the fall, our hopes are as high as the temperature outdoors. We’ve gotten a good long break from academics, and we come back refreshed and ready to go. Many of us can’t say the same thing about second semester. It’s common to feel, well, over it, procrastinating on assignments and studying half-heartedly – especially when it’s your very last semester before heading off to college. However, falling into a second semester slump can result in a major drop in your GPA, and in dramatic cases, even cause colleges to rescind their offers. Avoid the second semester slump with these six tips.
Take it one day at a time.
I always fell victim to the second semester slump when I got in my head. Staring at a mile-long to-do list on a gray February day, I’d start spiraling: This is miserable, and it’s only February. And then I still have March, April, AND May! Will I survive this? There will be so much work!
If you can do one thing, just take things one day at a time. I’m not advocating for ignoring upcoming due dates or exams, but don’t get caught up and overwhelmed thinking about the entire semester. What can you get done today? What do you need to do so that you go to bed feeling proud and accomplished? You always have next week to worry about next week. Today is for today’s to-do list alone.
That thing you least want to do? Do it first.
It’s normal to procrastinate doing something you hate, whether it’s a class you hate studying for or a homework assignment that always seems to take forever. However, 99% of the time it’s more unpleasant to have it hanging over your head than it is to just suck it up and get it done.
When you’re ready to tackle your to-do list, always start with the thing you’re dreading most. Once you have it out of the way, everything else will seem downright pleasant in comparison. Plus, if you force yourself to do this repeatedly, you’ll learn that procrastination tends to backfire and productivity feels much, much better.
Remember (and celebrate) your victories from the first semester.
You studied for three days straight for a chemistry test and ended up acing it. You wrote a brilliant paper that you couldn’t wait to turn in. You got into your first choice university! Whatever you did first semester that made you proud, remember and reflect on it. How good did those wins feel? How bad would it feel to tank your GPA now?
It sounds weird (and probably cheesy) but I used to always tell myself, “Do this for future-you.” Study hard now so that future-you can celebrate a great score later. Finish the project now so that weekend-you can actually relax with nothing on your plate. Stay disciplined this semester so that summer-you can do a happy dance when you get your year-end GPA.
Write or speak your second semester goals into existence!
There is just something about writing your goals down, or sharing your goals with someone else, that gives you a sense of accountability. Your goals are out in the world, and now you’ve got to make them happen!
What will motivate you most? Maybe it’s writing your goals down on a poster board and plastering them on your bedroom wall. Every morning you’ll be reminded, and every night you can reflect on the progress you made toward them. Maybe sharing your goals with your friends will do the trick – if you tell everyone you’re going to get straight As, you’ll feel a little extra pressure to do it! Everyone finds motivation and accountability in different ways, so think about what will push you most.
Don’t overdo it and burn out.
Often times, a second semester slump happens when you’ve tried to go 100 mph all day every day and completely exhausted yourself. Check out our previous blog for avoiding academic burnout at the end of the semester. Things like breaking your tasks into small chunks, rewarding yourself for productivity, and getting enough shut eye can do wonders, and help you avoid the slump altogether.
Remember your “why.”
It’s easy to lose track of your ultimate goal when you’re knee deep in mundane homework assignments, or studying for a course you have no interest in. It’s so important to keep your end goal at the forefront of your mind when things feel pointless.
Maybe your goal is to get into your top choice school. Maybe your goal is to get a scholarship. Maybe you’re already eying your dream job! Everything you do now – from the worksheets to the quizzes to the papers to the projects – are all ultimately leading you there. Not only will good grades open doors for you, but the discipline and work ethic you’re cultivating right now will take you miles. Remember your “why,” and use it as your motivation.
The second semester slump is very real, and the majority of students will have a day or two, or even a week or two, where they just aren’t doing their best. Use these tips to avoid or conquer the slump, and don’t forget that it’s never too late to turn your semester around!