Photo: Devin Jones, Illustration: Premila DSa

How to revitalize your sad semester

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By Premila D’Sa

The end of February is a sad, gross time. The weather sucks, our campus is cold and ugly, and you’re probably almost failing most of your midterms. It might feel like it’s too late to fix your semester, but it’s not. Here’s a solid 10-step plan, tested by at least one person (me), that will help you turn this semester around.


Step One:  Take a cold, hard look at yourself

 The first step is the hardest because the first step is looking in the mirror (metaphorically or literally, we’ll leave this up to you) and admitting that you’ve screwed the pooch. You’re not going to be able to fix anything if you don’t figure out what your problems are first. So grab a tea, take a seat, find a mirror and spend some time reflecting on all the ways you’ve messed up this semester. Then try to Dr. Phil yourself as much as you can and trace back to any bad habits or influences that may have caused you to mess up. Write them down! Refer back to this list constantly as a reminder to stop doing the things that got you here in the first place.


Step Two: Do a juice cleanse, but for your life

You need to find the greenest, most organic kombucha you can and pour it all over your life. Time to root out all those negative influences. Friends that pressure you to go clubbing, but never want to go book clubbing with you? Cleanse. Checking more off your Netflix list than your reading list? Cleanse.


Step Three: Get re-organized

 There’s no rule that says you can’t buy a planner in the middle of the semester. Chapters has bougie, aesthetically pleasing planners that will get you excited about scheduling. If you’re on a budget, try Muji’s  $2.99 agendas or a free app like Google Calendar. Now read through all your course syllabi and mark down all the important dates (essays, tests, presentations, exams).  It’ll give you a better idea of what you have coming up to help you get that GPA back on track, and help you plan to get a head start. It’s nice to know about an assignment due date and not find out about it the day it’s due.


Step Four: Throw one last   party to let your friends know you’re turning your life around

Fill your friends in on your personal midterm renaissance. It sounds obnoxious, but it’s going to help you for a bunch of reasons. If your friends know that you’re grinding hard to ace a midterm, they’ll think twice before sending you distracting Vine compilations. You can also get your friends to hold you accountable and make sure you really are home studying when you say so.


Step Five: Try to fix anything you can fix

 There’s no point dwelling on the past—unless the past is an assignment your professor might let you re-do. Try talking to your professors to find out if there’s any way to salvage that awful essay you wrote or your bad midterm grade. Some professors might give you a supplementary assignment to help bump up your GPA. If they give you another opportunity, don’t mess it up!


Step Six: Give yourself an incentive to do better

If the satisfaction of a good GPA isn’t enough  to get you fired up, figure out what does! One time a professor told me I couldn’t catch up on his course so I used proving him wrong as an incentive and hate-studied my way through the course. But you can find more wholesome motivations.


Step Seven: Ask people for help

 Ryerson’s Student Learning Support (SLS) has a bunch of trained study specialists who can figure out new study methods for you and help you break bad habits. If you’re in a crunch, the SLS has online resources that can help you with math, academic writing and study skills. We asked SLS learning strategist Andrea Moon for her own quick tips, here’s what she said:

  • Take some time to identify what your challenges are, i.e. time management skills? Difficulty of course content? Inability to focus? Once you have identified your challenges, you’ll be in much better shape to address them.
  • If you performed poorly on a test or midterm, find out where you lost marks. If available to you, look over your test or midterm so that you know what content to focus on next time.
  • Make a study plan and stick to it. You don’t need to schedule your time hour-by-hour; even writing down a few specific study tasks that you hope to accomplish each day will help. Focus on an action during your study time when you put things in your schedule, i.e. “practise problems 1-10” instead of simply “math,” or “find three academic sources for research paper” instead of “work on essay.” This makes the work before you clearer, and can help you feel a sense of accomplishment once the task is completed.
  • Start assignments early. Break up big tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks to make completing them less overwhelming.
  • Make choices about your time that reflect your priorities. This may mean practising saying “no” to activities that aren’t supporting your current academic goals.
  • Get a study buddy or join a study group to help motivate you.
Step Eight: Hustle, hustle, hustle

Put on some Cardi B and make some study moves.


Step Nine: Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

 Turning around a semester is hard work, and it might mean some sleepless nights. But never risk your personal health. If you feel overwhelmed, take a break.


Step Ten: Don’t slip

 Remember how painful this grind was so don’t put yourself through it all over again.



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