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Welcome to Week 4 – Time to check your progress

By Gaurav Talwar, 2nd year Life Sciences Student

With this new semester rolling along, the annual, trendy conversation starter, Can you believe it’s already week 4? has made its comeback. Having spoken to a few of my friends and fellow peers in the last couple of days, I feel that the typical conversation around this topic goes as follows:

“I can’t believe midterms are already here.”

“I know right, it feels like we just got back from the winter break. But the work has already started to pile up.”  

…… (insert a few more details)

“Agreed. I guess we just got to push through until reading week. 🙂

With midterms around the corner (or already started), assignments starting to pile up and reading week approaching in less than 20 days, I believe one of the best decisions you can make is to use week 4 as a check point to reflect on your progress thus far. But exactly how do you start to EVALUATE YOURSELF? Well, here is a little guide to get you started:

  1. Reflect on the experiences you had during your first semester. Look back at what strategies worked well (for exam prep, self care…) and which you could have improved on. Was there a particular course you did well on or really enjoyed? If so, how did you approach it and is there a way that you can stay on top of your game again? Likewise, were there any really stressful times (e.g. having to cram some study sessions the day before your exam, like I did) and how could you have prevented it? Remember, university is a time to learn and grow. Embrace the skills you learned and start throwing away the habits you want to lose.
  2. Ask yourself: do I feel satisfied with how I am doing so far and am I headed on the right track? This may be a tough question to answer, but be truthful to yourself and you will get a better picture of how you are doing.
    1. Start simple: Are you keeping up with your self-care? That is, are you getting the ideal 7-8 hours of sleep (or the amount that keeps you energized and focused during the day), eating a well-balanced meal (if not, make yourself a nutrition log and start eating better!) and getting your minimum 150 min of weekly exercise? As simple as these questions may seem, you want to make sure that you are practicing your healthy habits and are staying physically and psychologically fit.
    2. Dig a little deeper: Was there a New Year Resolution or goal that you promised to achieve at the start of the semester? How far are you in accomplishing it? Also, I’d recommend you think about your passions and get involved in the community if you haven’t done so already. It’s a nice feeling to be able to do something productive, fun and rewarding all at the same time.
  3. Develop an action plan.
    1. Start by setting some SMART goals. At Queen’s Learning Strategies, we recommend students to set goals which are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound. For example, a few of my friends and I are starting up a new club here at Queen’s. We have thought about it since first semester, but didn’t take much action. So as one of my goals, I will be working to finish up a couple of grant applications by the end of this week. Each day, I am setting aside an hour to answer two application questions (which is how long I gauge it will take me), and by doing so, I hope we will be productive to get the club started.
    2. Make a weekly schedule. Often, it can be hard to think far ahead and to plan out what you need to get done. However, with Reading week coming up, I think you can make this task a little easier by trying to plan what you need to get done before the break. Once you have a good idea, I suggest you look at our Weekly Schedule template, follow the instructions on the back, and start checking off your goals one at a time!
  4. Finally, keep yourself motivated and energized! Whenever you feel tired or overwhelmed, think about the big picture of how you want the year to go. Then, look back at your goals, remember their importance, and get back to work. Also, feel free to share your goals with friends and family or reach out to a learning strategist to help you along your journey!

By taking this proactive initiative to check on your progress, I hope you get a better sense of you are doing and what steps you need to take to make this semester even more successful than you can imagine. And ultimately, always keep this in mind: Your university years will continue to fly by. All you can do is to try your best, have fun, and make the most out of your experience.


Photo courtesy of we collaborate under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.