Like all good stories, every semester has a beginning, a middle, and an end! In October, the middle of Fall semester arrives, and all students from 18 to 58 and beyond find themselves facing midterm. You might have tests, exams, or projects due but even if you don’t, now is the time to take stock of where you are in each course and plan a successful semester ending. It always seems that the second half of the semester rushes to an end even faster than it takes to get from the beginning to the middle!
If you have managed to keep up with your coursework so far, you know what it takes to keep up the pace and finish with success. However, don’t be surprised if you feel the need for some encouragement at this point in the semester. Although it is important to believe in yourself, you can also ask for feedback from professors and find out how other students are coping. One quick way to check in with other students is to use the Colorado State Continuing Education Facebook page. Feel free to let your peers know how you are doing or ask questions. You may find other students who feel the same way and just seeing that they do can help you realize that there are other students like you. You might have suggestions to help someone else, and we can all use Facebook as a communication tool to support each other in our online learning community.
If, however, you feel concerned or overwhelmed at midterm, now is NOT the time to PANIC! You need to focus, face up to what you still need to do, and take charge of your time. If you’ve fallen behind or are hesitating to figure out where you stand in your course, you MUST work up the courage to ask for input now! You need to communicate with your professors and coordinators to find out exactly where you stand so that you can make a plan. Once you know what you still need to do, you may have to plan each day until your deadlines, but YOU can do it! Remind yourself that working towards your goals takes small steps and every lesson of every course is part of that journey.
No matter what you are feeling at midterm, remember you need to take care of yourself. It can help to schedule a study break to make you more effective while you study (I remember studying for 50 minutes and then taking 10 to make something to drink or eat, or just to chat with roommates). All some students need is to get up and walk around for a few minutes. Others take more time to do something more physical and exercise (incredibly, even though we think we can’t afford 30 minutes or an hour to do something active, it actually helps our mental efforts by allowing our brains time to process and imagine). In Fort Collins, many students love to cycle and they plan some time to get outdoors and get oxygen flowing to their brains! What kind of physical activity helps you refocus and study?
Yes, sometimes when we feel stressed by what our studies require, we try and make up for lost time by pushing ourselves without any breaks! This can work for a short time, but research shows that taking time to relax can actually help you remember more and focus on what you are trying to learn. Spending some time with friends and family can be a good idea-especially if those friends and family expect you to be successful. A little encouragement can go a long, long way! Of course, you have to eat, and eating with friends and family can also help you relax and fuel your body. Eating nutritious food is always part of the puzzle in balancing your studies and other responsibilities (this may not be a time for pot noodles!), and midterm is no time to forget that even the lack of one nutrient can be a disadvantage for your body. It’s also a good idea to drink a lot of water while you study. You may be tempted to consume large amounts of caffeine, but that does not always help. How do you refuel your body and maintain your energy?
As you work to finish the semester, remember that keeping up with assignments, readings and other deadlines will pay off later. It is most important to remind yourself of your success so far in order to keep you focused on the finish line. Treat yourself after each assignment or hurdle! We would love to hear your story of how you worked to become more successful! What helps you keep up with your online courses? What is your favorite way of relaxing so that you can stay calm and balance your life?
It’s all about YOU!