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Fixing Fall Semester’s Stress: Or Is it Christmas Yet?

 Written by    November 20, 2013

The moment I have forever been waiting for has finally arrived: the semester is drawing to a close. I’ve been burnt out on fall semester since week six.  Only two presentations, three papers, and a final exam stand between me and winter break.  Even making that list of obligations is stressful, so maybe we should discuss some of the things that have been stressing me out all semester but are finally gone.

marc and amanda

My face when I think about all the upcoming homework.

Really Stressful Things That Will Be Gone in a Few Weeks:

1)      Forming a Close Personal Relationship with Thompson Library: Really though I should probably start paying rent.  I’ve spent a good amount of my semester in this place, even most weekends.  I’ve become a master of using books on reserve and have a list of favorite study spots (varying based on actual study activity to be performed).

Being in the library until close on a Friday night (which it turns out is 10pm, not midnight, but that’s another story) is really depressing sometimes.  This semester it felt like every time I finished a paper or a project another one was ready to take over my life.

It’s really easy to get burnt out without any time to enjoy the achievement of finishing one task.  Especially when your weekend plans include books over human beings.  My body started feeling the effects of this crazy study schedule.  I was over caffeinated and over worked and it showed.

this is as good

Me most mornings when I’m stressed out.

2)   Receiving Disappointing Grades: You know what makes constant studying even harder? When the papers you write or the quizzes you study for don’t quite earn the grades you were aiming for.

Especially frustrating is receiving poor grades in classes in your major.  I felt dumb and useless.  If I can’t get an A now, how do I get a job in a few years? How am I going to pay the bills? Or more importantly, my student loans? These questions crossed my mind every day.


Probably not going to be able to manipulate my professors into giving me better grades a la Cher in Clueless.

 This stress caused me to start getting poor grades even in places that I should have been excelling.  I started bombing simple reading quizzes simply because I was so nervous about my grades.

3)      My House: Literally everything about my house is either frightening or problematic.  Things keep breaking and I have no time to deal with them.

The amount of things that have gone wrong in our house is just ridiculous.  Let me list a few:

1)      We had a bat take up residence in our living room. (and he didn’t offer to pay rent)

2)      The washer frequently refuses to drain any water and our clothes are always soaking wet.

3)      My landlord was parked in my roommate’s parking spot one day, so I left her my spot and got a ticket because of where I was parked on the street.

4)      Sometimes there are spiders in the shower and I do not like killing them.


At least we don’t have a cockamouse…yet.



But as the semester comes to a close I’m actually sad that it’s all over.  I finally feel like I have somewhat figured this all out.  I like the people in my classes.  I know my routine.  And despite my house falling apart, I kind of want to spend more time here with my roommates before I go home for the holidays.

So here is the much more positive list of what I did to ameliorate some problems.  Hopefully I will read this when I’m crushed under spring semester’s cruel fist.


How to Stop Being Burnt Out and Start Being Happy:

1)      Cut Some Obligations: For me this was a big choice.  I knew I was juggling too many things. But the only thing that I could feasibly cut out was my job.  And being a student who receives little to no financial aid, a job is a big deal.

I’ve been officially unemployed for about two weeks now and my mood has improved tenfold.  I get a little upset when I think about putting gas in my car.  I know I can’t go without a job forever.  But right now was not the time.

I actually get homework done now. I’ve remembered how much I genuinely like to learn. And that’s great.

cut obligations


2)      Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: A big part of the reason I was bummed about my grades was because I was seeing my classmates as competitors, instead of partners in this crazy journey.

It was hard to be in a graduate class around students who have been in school much longer than I have.  I had to keep reminding myself that I didn’t have to be at that level yet.  I’m 20 years old.  I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s just awesome that I get to be in this environment with these brilliant people that can teach me so much about history and adulthood.

 kat quote

 And as for my undergraduate classes? Simply by talking to my peers I’ve learned that I’m not the only one struggling.  Other students are making the same grades as me.  I’m not a failure.  I’m just normal.  And I like that.

3)      Plan Homework Around Social Time: Okay this one sounds bad, but let me explain.  For example, this Sunday I know that I have an all-day event for Off the Lake, a retreat that I look forward to all year. So Saturday I’m going to get up on time, get my books together, and get to the library.  I have a lot due next week, but I do not deserve to miss this event because of school.


After so many weekends in the library I hope I still have some social skills…

 Sometimes this also means working ahead.  Sure my paper isn’t due until next Monday but that doesn’t mean I can’t finish writing on Wednesday.  Using valuable weekday time means getting to have my weekends free and reclaiming my social life and with it my sanity.

4)      Realize Everyone Has Problems: When you’re going through a tough time it’s really easy to drown in self-pity.  This was me a few weeks ago.  But every time I start to feel bad for myself I like to just remember that I’m not the only one.  Opening up to other people can be the greatest thing.

chuck and morgan

Sometimes you might just need a hug from your best friend.

I’ve also realized that talking to other people can make me realize how insignificant (and how easy to conquer) some of my stresses are.  A few weeks ago my roommate and I were discussing the multiple broken appliances in our house and our lovely friend the bat and we ended up dissolving into laughter. Instead of making our problems something to laugh about in the future we took the initiative and we’re laughing about it now.


sam coulson


If I’ve learned anything over the past few years it’s that college (and adulthood really) never stops being hard.  But that’s no reason to give up.


You can do it!

You can do it!





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Academics, Advice, Classes, finals, Personal, Stress, Stress Relief, Studying

One Response

  1. Loved it!! Finding how to avoid time consuming task like meeting that just eat at your time is a great idea.

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