Bouncing back after you stuffed up the first half of semester

April 05, 2016
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Most of us go into semester fully expecting everything to go down swell. This is totally fine, and honestly it’s bad practice to crank up the pessimism before you even start studying proper. But there are still some potential downfalls to the no-worries approach — mainly surrounding what happens if everything doesn’t go swell, and you’re caught out unprepared. The truth is, there are a lot of ways to throw a student off track. If you’ve recently found yourself facing the halfway point of semester and you’ve got nothing to show for it, don’t fret. There is an escape route.

Organise a consultation with your tutor ASAP

You need to do this if you’re looking to get back on track and make it through to the end. Best case scenario, you’ll be able to swoop through with a good mark like nothing happened. Worst case scenario, you’re looking at a lot of effort just to get a 51 per cent pass mark. Being in that last category isn’t fun —frankly, it sucks — but it’s a safe bet that repeating this unit next semester will be more taxing. Figure out when your tutor’s meeting times are and organise that face-to-face or Skype session. Teaching staff are there to help you pass, and with a collaborative study plan, you’ll be graduating yet.

Deactivate your social media for 72 hours minimum

If you’ve got a lot of academic level readings, lectures and exercises to complete, then you’d better believe that Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and everything else you’ve got wasting battery needs to disappear from your life for a while. Deny it all you want, but you’re going to be way more efficient when you’re not checking for notifications every five minutes.

Get out the calculator and work those percentages

Unless you’re working in a strictly practice-based course, it’s a safe bet that your unit structure has several assessments all weighted to a specific percentage of your overall grade with a final report or exam. Seeing as we’re at the halfway point of semester, it’s likely that you’ve already passed two deadlines - don’t stress yet. The final tests are still a while away, so you’ve got room to leave a good impression on your third or second-last pieces of assignment. Worst case scenario, you’ve got to do a lot of work just to get a 51 per cent pass mark — but that still beats repeating the whole unit.

Hit up student advisors for any external factors

Outside purely study-related concerns, if there are still external pressures ratcheting up the difficulty factor for the downhill run of your semester, then the best thing to do is to check in with one of the student advisors and lay out your concerns. It’s likely that any intense stress you’re feeling doesn’t need to be so full-on, and for the cases where it’s granted, there’s probably an alternative route open to you in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

Commence all upcoming assessments weeks in advance

No matter how many handy tips you can amass, the bottom line still arrives at the need to put in hard work. If you’re in the unlucky sitch of being a few steps behind, early-birding is the strategy you need. The best way to keep yourself afloat is by getting an old fashioned headstart on your remaining assessments. If you’re tackling three or four units at a time, it’s likely you’ve got a good load to catch up on, so you need to start thinking about essays in week eight, as well as week 12. 

Jonathon Davidson

Jonathon is studying journalism at Murdoch University in Perth.

Image: Andrew Baggott, Flickr Creative Commons license