Hello Queen’s friends!
I hope that you had a great reading week and that you came back happy, rejuvenated, and better than when you left for the break. If you haven’t seen my last blog, let me remind you: I was not thriving before reading week. There were midterms after assignment, assignment after midterm. Just a lot of intense work. What was the result of those two weeks before reading week? Let me tell you: nothing very elegant.
- I submitted assignments, but I don’t have my marks back yet
- One midterm mark was average,
- Another midterm went decently,
- And my last midterm…I got a 16%.
It was the day I went to the spa—one of the big activities I’d planned to relax—that my friend texted me. “Just open the grade tomorrow,” they said, as if seeing my mark would ruin my day. That day, at the spa, I spent 5 hours in saunas and outdoor hot pools. I was already in enough hot water for the day that I didn’t need to land myself in hot water AGAIN by looking at my grade.
If I saw my mark, the only person in danger of being criticized would be me, and the only person that would criticize me would be…well, me. And so I told myself that I wouldn’t criticize myself as the exam was really hard. I opened my marks, looked at them, saw that the class average was 30%, laughed, and put my phone away. I enjoyed my day anyway.
This little incident reminds me of when I got a 40% on of my quizzes in second year, and despite that quiz’s class average being 50%, I was an absolute shambles. I forgot my sense of self-worth and had a hard time believing I could ever be successful.
I see growth in my reactions to these failures, and I’m proud of persevering.
Sometimes, however, I still forget how difficult my Apple Math program is supposed to be, and I create an illusion that I can do anything and everything if I manage my time and keep up with my work. That is true—managing time and completing deliverables are fundamental building blocks in education, and maybe I can do anything as long as I time-manage and keep up with work—but, man, would it be painful and sad. No one can work non-stop for weeks on end without feeling like they’re suffering.
So with the reminder that all I need is some good food, sleep (wow, who would have thought), and a little bit of reflecting, I can chart a path through the last quarter of this year. Here’s what I plan to remind myself in the next few weeks.
- Use assignments as study material: Assignments are not chores. They shouldn’t be something we do mindlessly or ask our friends to give us the answers. We hit two birds with one stone when we study the content that is necessary to complete our assignments. First, we can actually complete our assignment, and second, we get some studying done! I find that a lot of students go through assignments/homework without truly absorbing the content necessary to do the questions. Instead, we should use them as resources to help us study for final exams.
- Every interval counts: Every short interval between classes or going out or anything can be used productively. The five minutes that we spend on Instagram before classes starts can be used to review content or peek at an upcoming assignment. These short intervals are so significant because you can accomplish so many small, little things that you would never normally do until later simply because they are small and seemingly insignificant. In reality, though, using a few minutes to refresh your memory or mentally prepare for an assignment does wonders and can help you stay on top of your work. Don’t forget, though, that five minutes can also be a productive break: rest, relaxation, breathing, a quick stretch—it all counts!
- Combining my previous two points, an effective way to do assignments is to try them as you learn the content. For example, you learned simple harmonic motion (SHM) in Physics on Monday, and you have a Physics assignment due in a week or two. Spend some time looking over your assignment and seeing if there are any questions about SHM, and if there are, try to complete them. This way, you can learn if you’re confident in the topic or need more help, and you also have the opportunity to complete the question.
- Spaced practice beats cramming: Something really helpful for assignments is to do one question a day. “One question a day” has a lot of advantages. Doing one question is not as overwhelming as doing more than one, so we’ll be more likely to say, “It’s just one question; I got this.” Moreover, we can apply spaced practice. If we do a little bit of the assignment each day, then we retrieve the memories from our brain’s storage for that class, and this repeated retrieval process over a prolonged time makes us more likely to retain information. Lastly, we have more time to think and seek help. That is, if we don’t understand one question, we can take note to ask the professor and move on to the next question, which we can’t do if we’re cramming to finish the assignment all in the last day. All of that together means that, if we start early even in a small way, then we can feel like a weight’s taken off our shoulders (and then we can help our friends, which will further strengthen our knowledge!).
I don’t feel totally hopeless yet, Gaels. We only have 4 more weeks to go. I am with you all the way.
Best of luck,