I hope everyone had a nice Easter holiday, if indeed, you were fortunate enough to have one. For this blogger, they’ll be no holidays until the dissertation is terminated. Sorry, submitted!
One criminology academic once told me that Easter and the beginning of April is either liberation or panic. Liberation in the sense that there are a few weeks without lectures to attend or seminars to prepare for. Panic in the sense that the realisation hits you that the time to write essays or prepare for exams is beginning to run out, especially for final year students.
For me personally, is a little bit of both, but I’m generally feeling positive. As someone who is both motivated and organised, I don’t have a problem with managing my time. However, a lot of students, even successful ones, do seem to struggle with that, especially during ‘vacations’.
Many students plan their studying around their lectures or seminars, particularly if they don’t live near campus. By that, I mean they’ll go to the library a good time before a teaching session and get some work done, attend the lecture or seminar and then go home. Or they will go to the library after their timetabled event. This works well during term time but the prospect of a few weeks without a timetable can lead to days of procrastination which leads to last minute panics in the days leading up to deadlines or exams.
My advice is simple: on the weekend before the start of the vacation, design a study calendar for each day of the break, including weekends. I can’t tell you how much time to devote to studying or how to divide the studying time between your different modules or assessments. You have to make those decisions based on the importance of each module and how much work you’ve already done.
In addition, you need to schedule some time to relax and have fun. Quality of study time is just as important as quantity. If it gets to a point whereby your brain is tired and your mind is not as smart as normal then it’s probably time to take short break. 3 focused hours without any distraction is likely to be just as effective than 6-8 unproductive hours.
I recommend splitting each day into four periods and to dedicate a minimum of two periods a day to studying. Out of 28 weekly sessions, if you want to achieve good results, I’d make a bare minimum of 18 sessions studying sessions. For these sessions, keep your phone off and stick to reading, thinking and writing academic work. Then enjoy your non-study sessions to the full.
Do the above and you’ll make the vacations as productive as term time and give yourself the best chance of excelling at essays and exams. And by the time you return to university at the end of April and start of May, you’ll feel relaxed knowing that you won’t have to study round to clock to hit those deadlines.