The worst part about a break is it happening in the first place. Doesn’t it seem like hedonism to peruse a false sense of pleasure, stuffing our face with food and sleeping for countless hours, when reality dictates that at the end of the day, you still have mounds of obligations to return to in only five days? Some students were still swamped with assignments during this time.
Maybe that was a bit dramatic, and I am thankful for my opportunity to return home to family and unwind, but when I land back on campus the Band-Aid rips off and I realize my time is up. What in the world have I been doing since August? Do my “Let’s get this bread” and “#4.0 Season” posts on social media have any grounding, or am I just tricking my audience into thinking I have it together? The semester is almost over, and the chances of that academic plot twist may be dwindling.
Luckily, I have learned from (most) of my mistakes. If you want to turn around your whole semester in three weeks the number one thing I have learned is to be honest with yourself. Fight the overwhelming urge to neglect responsibilities and force yourself to complete them. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I swear up and down I’ll quit my job, but then run after the TCAT to make my 8:30 a.m. shifts on the Ag Quad. Like the US Postal Service, neither snow nor rain nor surprise construction or ‘No Winter Maintenance’ sign can keep a Cornell student from succeeding.
Don’t text your friend and mutually agree not to go to class, text them and remind them that it’s time to “rise and grind.” Don’t lay in bed and use the law of attraction to hope for a snow day, use that energy to open your textbook — even if it is for the first time. Pull up your grey sweatpants, zip up your Goose, and throw on your Fjallraven backpack. Arrive at your T.A.’s office hours at least three days before your prelim, don’t barge in right before the test with questions you couldn’t answer for weeks. When you go to the library, don’t garnish your desk with your laptop, textbook, planner, multicolored pens and Starbucks, only to sit on your phone for 2 hours. Don’t think about your tears glittering on your prelim pages, think about the gold stamp glittering at the bottom of your Cornell diploma. Finally, in all seriousness, don’t talk negatively about yourself, your grades or your situation. You will pass that class, you will graduate and you will succeed.
We oftentimes consciously set ourselves up for failure with all these don’ts, but what are the alternatives? This finals season, if you want to turn around your whole semester or secure the hard work you have already put in for three weeks, here are some things you can do.
Firstly, go back to the basics. There is some grounding behind all those self-help tips we hear all the time; one day you will realize why they are always being repeated. Make a schedule and organize your tasks, take time out to balance yourself, eat healthily and try to unplug from friends and social media when you need to focus. Although it is important to work with your friends in order to succeed in class, you don’t need to cycle between Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram over and over again until you realize its 5 p.m., pitch black outside and your work didn’t complete itself. Make use of study groups to learn instead of relinquishing time. Use the weekends to knuckle down and complete long assignments instead of completing a new series on Netflix. Look over all your class materials, you may stumble upon something valuable. Even more valuable, go to your T.A.s, professors or tutoring sessions. Plan ahead, make study guides and sleep. Somehow you have managed to make it this far into your Cornell career, what’s to say that you can’t keep going.
Aminah Taariq is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I Spy runs every other Wednesday this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org