By Emily McLaughlin, 4th year Devs/Psych student
It’s officially February! The cold blistering winds and freezing temperatures make the walks to campus seem long and extremely uninviting. But just as February as arrived so quickly, it will soon pass and final assignments will be upon us in a flash! It may seem a little preemptive to start planning out your final assignments now in Week 5, but you might actually want to consider it for a few reasons.
First of all, picking a topic is hard especially when you are crunched for time and have multiple things on the go. Writing an essay about a topic you don’t enjoy makes the writing process seem long and increases procrastination. But writing a topic about something you are extremely passionate means that you will have a lot to say but it can be difficult find a focus. Thinking about this now gives you time to visit your professor or TA and get their input on your topic. They can help you hammer out a thesis and make sure your assignment fits the criteria they are looking for!
The other reason I highly recommend thinking about your assignments now is to give yourself ample time for research! I’ll make a confession; I have left assignments until the last minute before and not had time to read the entire article so I have only read the abstract or the introduction. This is fairly obvious to professors and TAs when you are only citing the first few pages. Reading the entire article will give you ample background knowledge in the topic and prepare you to make a strong and cohesive argument! Another thing I highly recommend is finding a book you can use for your topic! This tip may be much more relevant to art students. The books in Stauffer aren’t just for looks! Reading a few chapters of a book can help you to find new ideas for your topic. Giving yourself time to read a few articles or a book can help to inform yourself before making a place
Finally making a plan is incredibly important. Divide up your time specifically. Work backwards from the due date to ensure you have enough time to finish the assignment and have time to edit it. Plan to finish two days before the deadline to give yourself extra time in case something happens and to have time to edit. Starting early also allows you to schedule an appointment with the Writing Centre to work with a professional writing consultant to help perfect your writing and learn skills to make yourself a confident writer. Using our assignment calculator will give you an idea of how much time you will really need to complete the assignment so you don’t fall victim to planning fallacy. Commit to a day to start and write it on a calendar. Dividing up your 10-page essay into small parts will also make the essay less scary. Writing 5 pages in 1 day and 5 pages the next day can seem overwhelming whereas writing 2 pages a day for 5 days (maybe with a day off!) can seem a lot less stressful! Think of your mental health and help yourself by beginning early!
Being in university can often cause you to fall into a shortsighted view of the semester. Remember that time flies by! Using our term calendar can help you keep a more long-term few of the semester. I’ll be completely honest; I used to think my professors were crazy when they told us to start our Week 10 assignments in Week 6, but after trying it, I can tell you that it will save you a lot of stress! Spreading out your assignment rather than cramming them into one week can also help to reduce stress when you have 3 assignments due in one week. Start your research now and become really invested in your topic! It will allow you to explore new interests and give you time to explore new angles!
Planning is a something that is often forgotten; don’t let yourself fall into that trap! You will be especially thankful for looking to the long term now. Reward yourself closer to the deadline when you have extra free time because you have dominated the concept of forward thinking! And just a reminder, exams are only 8 weeks away!
Photo courtesy of Areta Ekarafi under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.