Oof, Midterms: Advice for Destress and Success

We are halfway through the quarter and chances are that you, my dear Triton, are as stressed as I am. You got your first round of midterms back and wondering to yourself: “Where did I go wrong?”, “What is happening?”, and “WHY?”.  While I, personally, cannot answer any of those questions for you, I can provide ways for you to destress so that you can ace that next round of midterms.

Rewind

Over the course of my time at UC San Diego, I found that it’s extremely important to take a step back and put things in perspective. While you are here, you will realize that there should be more to college than constant studying, which can be hard to see due to the competitive academic culture at UCSD. While you should be focusing on your studies — that is why you are here after all! — it’s just as important to make sure that you have other non-academic pursuits and hobbies. For me, it’s writing and seeing new parts of San Diego, even if it means getting a little lost. The best time to explore these other interests would be now since you might have a bit of free time before your next exam.

Art by Susan Sun

Relax

There are plenty of ways for you to destress both on and off campus. One place to start is to pursue some of those hobbies I was mentioning earlier. I highly suggest something that’s creative, such as painting or photography. I recently started splattering paint around silhouettes and have found the mess of it brings out a strange childlike sense of accomplishment. But I also find myself stress cleaning because there is something incredibly satisfying about a clean, organized desk spread. There also are plenty of dogs for you to pet at Therapy Fluffies at the Zone, but if you want to spend more time with animals, consider volunteering with the San Diego Humane Society. If you are looking for something even simpler, walk over to the Scripps Coastal Reserve, and watch the sunset by the cliffs with some friends. I assure you, it is a great way to make some memories and enjoy being outside in the moment.

Reflect

Once you have cleared your mind and gotten that anxiety under control, it’s time to retrace your steps and see how to improve. We all tend to fall for the trap that is procrastination, but it’s a terrible habit to have when working in a quarter system. Once things start piling up, they can get a bit out of control, so it’s best to always start your assignment, even if it’s just brainstorming thesis ideas or thinking of how to do the first part, as soon as you receive them. Another study habit I learned is to study somewhere other than home and Geisel. At home, you are too comfortable, and at Geisel, it’s too crowded and full of other people who are stressed. I like to find a nice middle ground, like a coffee shop for when I need background noise and sometimes at La Jolla Riford Library, when I need to get off campus but want a quiet atmosphere; plus, it’s right around the corner from The Taco Stand for when I need a study break.

While these are some of my tips for surviving midterms and inevitable finals, they might not work for everyone. The key is to figure out the right balance between social life and academics, in order to thrive here. So, don’t stress too much, and best of luck on midterms!