Prepare, for the End (of the Semester) is Near

You know it’s coming.

You’ve been through it before.

But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m talking about the end of the semester. Or, not exactly the end — but the week or two leading up to the semester’s close. Crunch time, stress time, or whatever you might call it on your campus.

At most U.S. colleges and universities, the fall semester winds down by uncomfortably sandwiching a week or two of classes plus final exams in between Thanksgiving and the start of the winter break. Not only do most instructors have final projects, papers, and tests to grade before giving and grading final exams, but the end of the semester also creates deadlines for administrative reports, committee projects, and student theses.

Here at ProfHacker, we’ve written several posts with good suggestions for the true end of semester, including May 2011′s From the Archives post on Getting Through the End of Term and Ethan’s End of Semester Checklist.

But how can you best get through the next couple of weeks until the end arrives? The same way people in apocalyptic movies survive:

  • Gather Supplies
  • Form a Group
  • Be Tough

Gather Supplies: It’s worth it to do whatever you can right now to make your life easier for the next three weeks. One easy way is to make sure you stock up your household with nonperishable supplies so that you won’t have to be running errands when you’re already feeling overwhelmed. Having some healthy snacks on hand can help balance your energy when you’re grading. Consider preparing and freezing some meals now so that you’ll have less cooking to do in a couple of weeks. Obviously, unless you’re already pretty well prepared for the apocalypse, you won’t have time or space to prepare and freeze three weeks of meals. But a big batch of soup or chili can go a long way and make things just a bit easier later on.

Form a Group: This is, of course, a standard plot device in apocalypse and disaster movies: acquaintances, friends, or strangers find themselves in a situation in which they have to work together to survive (though usually one or more get eaten by mutant sharks or whatever the threat is). Even though we each have our own reports, grades, and paperwork to complete, being supportive and understanding of colleagues can help ease tensions at this busy time of year. Sitting with a friend at a coffee shop and grading together can make it a bit more enjoyable. Instead of just complaining with colleagues and friends, imagine how you could band together to help everyone get through this time with a little more ease.

Be Tough: You’re not surviving the wipe out of all electrical devices or an alien invasion, but you still need to draw on your inner resources to make tough decisions, tackle things you’d probably rather not do, and sacrifice some of your usual habits or pleasures to get through the next few weeks. Sometimes being tough simply means figuring out how to take care of yourself so you don’t get sick or overly exhausted. Who knows, your inner resilience might surprise you when you’re tested. (And if it helps your attitude to put on a certain pair of boots or imagine yourself leading a polar expedition, then why not.)

Just remember, it’s temporary. We all just have to hang on and get through.

What’s your favorite strategy for managing the crunch at the end of the fall semester? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative Commons licensed image by flickr user mikelehen]

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