The middle of September to the middle of October is notoriously known amongst USC students as “Midterm Season.” Encompassing both the 1/3 mark of the semester and the halfway point, the majority of classes have either an exam, a presentation or a paper due; if you’re lucky, they’re not all in the same week, but if you’re not, then midterms can be an incredibly stressful time.

This week, I’ve already had one midterm, have two more, two projects due, and a whole slew of other commitments, assignments and club meetings/practices. There’s already been two really late nights, and I’m sure that trend will continue as the week progresses.

These struggles are not at all exclusive to me; at USC, everyone is taking challenging classes and engaging themselves, so this stressful season is definitely something we all share. My friends have helped me out so much, whether it’s accompanying me back from Leavey at 2am or even just reminding me to sleep or take a break. On that note, I wanted to share a few tips I’ve accumulated over my few semesters at SC.

  1. DAY 1 OF CLASSES: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN IN YOUR CALENDAR. I’m obsessed with google calendar, and spend far too much time scheduling and color coding, but honestly, as soon as you get your syllabus from your class (week 1), write every single midterm and project and major due date into your calendar. That way you won’t have ANY nasty surprises come actual midterm season.
  2. Every Sunday, plan your week: this can really be super general and very basic (Monday: 3 classes + practice + club meeting, Tuesday: 2 classes + research + bio lab, etc.) don’t put hours or times down, timeboxing doesn’t help you and honestly it decreases productivity for me. allow yourself to get off schedule, but pick yourself up and keep chugging along.
  3. READ. THE. BOOK. they say you don’t use textbooks in college. WRONG. read the book, and read the section you’re being lectured on the night before. This allows you to engage with the lecture and understand what the professor is picking out as the most important pieces– everyone else will be struggling to keep up with the lecture and you’ll be a step ahead!
  4. USE YOUR WEEKENDS PRODUCTIVELY: THIS is so important!! It’s so easy to just do nothing on the weekends, with gamedays taking over an entire day and random housework tasks/exploring/procrastinating can easily eat up the other half of your weekend. Weekends are the only time where you can really schedule blocks of uninterrupted work. Get it done on the weekends, your weekday self will thank you.
  5. EXERCISE: this is SO important. I may be biased on this end, since I’ve always been involved with sports/athletic activity, but a little bit of exercise really boosts brain productivity and promotes higher self esteem. Do it and you’ll feel better about yourself too!
  6. EAT: studying is not an excuse for skipping meals. Nourish your body, nourish your brain and eat some solid, healthy, satisfying food.
  7. SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS: self explanatory, give your brain a break and make sure you spend time with your friends. Building deep, meaningful friendships in college is easy, if you put in the effort. There’s so many incredible people wandering the USC campus, talk to people and they’ll save your butts during midterms with late night food, encouraging texts and as motivational study buddies.

Stay strong during midterms guys, power through!! It’ll all be fine, and if you keep all these things in mind, you’ll be academically successful, balanced and organized when midterms roll around. Hang in there, and fight on!!

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