Midterm momentum: better, faster, stronger...
Take a bow. You made it through midterm exams. It’s a good moment to call home and share the news with your friends and family.
If you wish you’d done better, don’t despair. There are resources in place at Concordia to get you back on track, emotionally and academically.
“I recommend students give themselves at least a one-day, guilt-free break,” says Marc Léger, psychologist with Concordia’s Counselling and Psychological Services.
“Try to return to a regular sleep schedule, and to ensure proper nutrition and exercise. A healthy body is essential for a healthy mind!”
Léger recommends that, in order to get motivated again for the next push, students need to begin working again and not wait to feel motivation.
“This time of year has more to do with structure and self-accountability than it does with the burst of energy present at the beginning of the semester. Motivation comes from doing, so get action-oriented.”
This doesn’t mean berating yourself, or thinking you have to be a perfect student, he insists.
“A lot of students think that they have to have it together at all times. I remind them that being their best selves means not giving up when times are tough and thinking back to past successes.”
Students who feel exceptionally overwhelmed can make a triage appointment to seek personal counselling.
Need a new academic game plan?
While getting action-oriented is essential to self-motivation, it’s also advisable to look at tangible ways to improve your study habits.
“The worst thing you can do is worry without taking action,” says Juliet Dunphy, manager of Student Learning Services at the Student Success Centre. “If midterms created a crisis of confidence, what matters is what you do about it next.”
Learning resources within the Student Success Centre exist in many forms: writing assistance, math assistance, study groups, language support and over 200 workshops a year on topics such as strategies for studying in your second language, tips for online learning, taking multiple choice exams, time management and effective oral presentations.
There is a writing assignment calculator online to plan and break down the process of drafting papers, as well as approximately 90 handouts with tips on everything from problem-solving to effective reading and note-taking.
“We point students to workshops, handouts, math tutoring, writing assistance and possibly counselling. We also have strategic learning sessions — specific study groups for historically difficult classes in economics, chemistry, biology and geography.”
Meet the learning specialists
Haleh Raissadat and Courtney MacDonald, two of Concordia’s full-time learning specialists, note that study strategies are different for reading-based courses versus problem-solving courses, which typically involve numbers.
“Problem-solving courses are cumulative, so it’s important to make sure you understand everything as you go along,” says Raissadat, who specializes in problem-solving courses in math and engineering.
“Redoing questions isn’t learning. You need to apply the knowledge in a different context.”
For students in the humanities and other reading-based courses, MacDonald recommends that they "get into the habit of asking questions and making predictions while reading." She suggests students "read smaller chunks of information and stop to check for understanding regularly by answering their questions and confirming predictions.”
This year, new Concordians can benefit from First-Year Fridays, a workshop series devoted entirely to the first-year student experience.
Take a break from your busy schedule and unwind with other new students, meet student mentors in a relaxed setting while enjoying a snack and learning about essential tips to navigate the university experience from the Student Success Centre's first-year support counsellor, Louise Côté.
These events cover a wide range of topics, from beating procrastination to figuring out the program and career path for you. They're also a great opportunity to pick up tips for success in your degree while meeting other first-year students!
The last event of the semester, Managing Your Stress for Success, will take place on November 2 — just in time for late midterms or finals.
“Moderate stress levels can help keep you motivated, focused and on task” says Côté.
“But when it gets too intense or overwhelming, stress can really impair your thinking and your performance on exams, no matter how hard you study. So, learning to manage your stress effectively is key to thriving in university.”
You’ll learn tips to identify your stress triggers, as well as simple strategies to effectively identify and deal with these triggers so you can perform at your best.
Don’t worry if you’ve missed them, First-Year Fridays will be back next semester.