How to Get Ready for Finals & Graduation

College students at the cusp of graduation should keep Aesop’s cautionary tale of the tortoise and hare in mind. In other words, just because the finish line is in sight doesn’t mean that planning should fly out the window. The months and weeks leading up to finals and graduation can be the busiest time in a university student’s academic career, whether they’re achieving their accounting degree, finishing a nursing program, or pursuing another major. Here’s what to keep in mind as a graduation date approaches:

It’s Not Over ‘Til it’s Over

After years of hard work, studying, memorizing, and projects, feeling a little burnt out is fairly normal among university students about to graduate. While it’s important to make self-care a priority, losing sight of academic goals during finals week can be devastating to final grades and grade point averages. Finals should be treated with the same diligence as any other important test, and that means devoting time to study, reading, and preparation – even if there are enticing graduation parties popping up on the social calendar.

Secret finals study hack: chew the same flavor of gum or candy during both studying and test-taking. Scent is strongly tied to memory, and this trick has been proven to boost recall of studied material during later exams.

Take Stock of What’s Yours

Whether you’re attending an online university or a more traditional campus, the culmination of an academic career will produce a lot of….stuff. Chances are a graduating student will have to deal with books, binders, program-specific tools, even uniform wear in the case of some trade programs. Return anything being rented once finals are finished, and donate or sell items that might be useful to newcomers in your academic program – they’ll be grateful for the opportunity to save a little money over bookstore prices. Alternately, for textbooks, be sure to check book buying sites to get top dollar for the books you’ll no longer need.

Make Sure You’re Dressed!

While remembering the basics like pants and shirts is beyond easy, a surprising number of graduates forget to arrange sizing, ordering, and preparing their graduation wear in advance. Tackling this task early in the graduation process is advisable, as most colleges won’t allow graduates to order caps and gowns until they are confirmed as finished with their program. An inability to order is a red flag that a detail hasn’t been taken care of, and the earlier a student is aware of it, the more time he or she will have to remedy it.

When the order for graduation wear is actually placed, a graduate should also leave enough time for “hiccups” and delays with gown and sash shipments to occur without ruining the ceremony for themselves. (The same logic should also be applied to obtaining tickets and seats for friends and family at the ceremony itself.)

Form a Strong Network

Students often forge lasting relationships with their professors throughout their time at a university. As they progress through various class levels and subjects, teachers are in a unique position to recognize and shape students’ academic strengths. A quiet word before or after finals – depending on teacher availability, of course – can help a graduating student lock down a letter of recommendation or a contact at a compatible hiring company. Additionally, students should be sure to get contact information such as email addresses or phone numbers for other graduating students in their program. While new graduates emerge into the working world in similar circumstances, a lucky break and a spare job opening could mean passing on good fortune to a fellow graduate.

It may take years to reach the “finish” line of the virtual page or physical stage, but preparation may be the most valuable skill to cultivate for lifelong success.

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