Posted in College

The Finals Countdown

For most college students, finals are just around the corner, if not already in action. Here are some quick tips for the stressed out, unsure test takers.

  1. DON’T CRAM. This is probably the most common piece of advice you’ll get for any test or major assignment. Yes, I know you’re busy. I know you have other classes and other tests and final projects and assignments and possibly even work, and you’ve got to eat and get prepared to leave campus–but relax for a second. Look at it from a logical standpoint. Staying up late the night before a test and attempting to shove information in your head is typically ineffective, even if you feel successful because you scraped by with a decent grade. While it’s pretty much too late to do this so late in the semester, the most effective study habit is to study throughout the semester so that the information becomes common knowledge to you. “But,” you may say, “I’ve tried that before, and I never retain the information. It’s really better for me to cram.” Again, let’s look at this logically. Studies constantly prove that the brain doesn’t function as well as it could when the body only gets a couple hours sleep compared to recommended times. Plus, a lot of that information is only somewhat learned. Do you know that moment when you’re taking a test and you know the answer to the question? It’s on the tip of your tongue, but you end up scribbling down some nonsense answer because you just can’t remember. That’s a possible result of cramming. Now, should you review the material the night before and right before the test? Absolutely. If that method has worked for you in the past, I’m not asking you to change that. It’s a great way to remember little details or key concepts that may have slipped your mind in the midst of all the other things you have going on in your head. But reviewing material throughout the semester can tremendously improve your memory of the subject. And I mean actually reviewing–reading through your notes, reviewing the PowerPoint presentation your instructor posted online, reading the textbook.
  2. This brings me to number 2: Read the textbook. Scratch that. If you don’t want to read, fine. At least skim. Once you get into the swing of things, you should have an idea of what your instructor and institution typically include on exams, so skim through the text. Read the headings and some of the info. You did not pay $100 for that book so it oculd sit on your bookshelf. It can be a tremendously useful tool, especially in classes that are based on both readings and lecture.
  3. Get some sleep. Improve that brain function. If you feel well-rested on top of being well-prepared for the test, your attitude is likely to be a lot better.
  4. Find your study place. If you require complete silence, head to the library with some headphones. If you need a little more noise, turn on the tv or radio or go somewhere like the Student Union Building, the dormitory lounges, or somewhere else on campus where there’s a little more background noise.
  5. Snack! Don’t eat a whole package of cookies (like I am very guilty of doing on a regular basis). But find some nice snacks!
  6. Take some time off. If you study constantly with no breaks, your brain is simply going to rebel. You both need some relaxing time to cool off and let the material sink in.
  7. Budget your time. So you’re in a crunch for time and facing a tough decision: should you study more for the microeconomics or the British literature final? That depends. If you have a 95% in econ and a 72% in British lit, your time would probably be better spent studying for British lit. However, what if you have an 80% in both classes? You obviously need to study for both, but you know that the econ test will be worth more points. Besides that, you have read the literature that’s going to be on the Brit lit final. See, it all depends on where the test is going to make the largest impact.
  8. Don’t freak out about packing yet. Pack during your break or while you’re on the phone. Work on the schoolwork first and then worry about packing up unless you are going to leave the second your last final ends.
  9. Destress. Get a stress ball. Go for a walk. Play with a puppy (unless you’re allergic or deathly afraid of dogs).
  10. Use various study methods. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, quizzing, singing, index-carding, whatever. Involve your senses so that the material is in your memory.
  11. Finally, just do the best you can do. Study and walk in the room with confidence that you know the material and that even if you get that B instead of the A you were hoping for, you still gave it your best effort.
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Posted in Uncategorized

The Cycle

Sometimes, I think about people. The girl my friend likes, Alaska Young, Jennifer Keaton, random people in the world. I imagine a young woman around my age, sitting on her bed doing homework, whatever. A girl with normal thoughts and normal behaviors. Someone who doesn’t have OCD.

I used to kind of be that girl. Carefree, focused. However, when I look back at my past, I can see hints of OCD symptoms silently surfacing. I just didn’t know it then. I was just me. Quirky as I might have been, I was me.

The thing about OCD is that it’s a cycle. It’s an annoying, miserable cycle. Being physically sick seems to aggravate this cycle, and sometimes OCD medication doesn’t always feel like it’s working. Sometimes I feel like a zombie who cares about nothing, and other times I just collapse under the pressure OCD puts on me.

This is ultimately why I left the university I was at. If people ask, I say it was too far away from home, which is true. But I had a breakdown during what would have been my third semester there. I could not function. I hate to even think back to that time because of the memories and feelings that come along with it. My friends were very supportive at that time, and I truly have fantastic people in my life.

The original plan was to get treatment and return. I thought I might be able to return as early as the spring semester. As time went on, I realized I was not ready or even really willing to go back. I had fun there, but I was not happy there. It became clear that I would never attend that school again. It’s difficult to even go back as a visitor. As much as I enjoy visiting friends at that small university, it is not likely that I will return even to visit because of all the reminders there are. In a few years, most of my friends should have moved on from the school, leaving me with little reason to care about it anymore.

What scares me now is leaving the nearby community college I attend for another far-away university. There are two schools I am currently looking at, one much closer than the other. And I wonder if I can make it, even though I have trouble concentrating and now hate studying. I wonder about being at another new place where I will have to again face the pressure of making friends; I am so comfortable with my peers now, much more comfortable than I was at University A or even in high school. Then there are classes and textbook-reading. I will also probably need to continue working while attending school. Some people can have a full-time job and take a strenuous course load at a university, and I just want to say that those are cool individuals. That takes dedication, skill, hard work, and determination.

When it comes down to it, I still don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t think I am. To be real here, a lot of people aren’t ready for college when they go. I just want to say that if you have OCD, there’s hope. OCD can be anywhere from mild to crippling, but there’s hope. People might not understand the depth of OCD because it’s kind of seen as a quirk, and it can be. It can simply be behavior that others might consider “quirky.” But OCD can also cripple a person because it infiltrates the mind. There are thoughts and feelings that you simply don’t want to have and that you fight against. It’s exhausting. It’s tempting to give in to the compulsions that follow obsessions because people want to move on with their day–but when they give in, the cycle becomes stronger. It’s horrible. It’s not just a minor personality trait.

And that’s what people should know. I can’t give medical or psychological advice, but I can tell you that if you’re suffering from OCD, there’s hope for you, and you’re most definitely not alone.