Reflecting on last semester’s mistakes

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(Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

I’ve always felt that orientation week for students is like New Years Day for ‘normal people.’

We build it up in our minds as a chance to start fresh, to turn over a new leaf, and to conquer all of the goals we fell short of reaching last semester.

I’m in no way an expert, but as a veteran student on the cusp of graduation, I’ve experienced this feeling a few times over and have developed my own unique strategy for surviving each semester.

Before I leave Wilfrid Laurier University for good, I am willing to pass on my knowledge and past experiences to help other students get out of those comfortable study ruts and learn some new skills to improve their GPA.

There will be set-backs, there will be instances that appear impossible, and of course, there will be mistakes made. But don’t worry; this is all part of the experience.

The challenge is to meet these ‘mistakes’ head on and to develop your own unique success strategy to curb procrastination, excess partying, loss of motivation, and becoming overwhelmed.

Procrastination is an interesting phenomenon for the wrong reasons. Have you ever found that when you have a major paper to write, cleaning the entire house suddenly seems like a great idea? If a vacuum cleaner becomes more appealing than your assignment, chances are you haven’t really given it much thought. Those deadlines are approaching regardless, so have a brief brainstorming session and allow your brain to switch gears.

Partying is an inevitable and awesome part of student life. However, as you may have learned in the past, there is a time and a place for it.

Everyone deserves a reward for hard work, but make sure that hard work has actually happened first. If you have finished writing a ten page paper, it is acceptable to celebrate by going to Phil’s or Dallas on a Friday night.

If excessive partying becomes a part of your daily routine, it won’t feel like a reward anymore; you’ll only become over-stressed when you’re trying to make up for lost time once you realize how quickly those deadlines are approaching.

Find a balance — business in the front, party in the back.

Loss of motivation always seems to set in a few weeks after students begin their ‘fresh start.’ Like the January gym-goers, this is usually because we aren’t able to reach our ultimate goals right away.

The easiest way to stay motivated is to set manageable goals that can be reached on a daily or weekly basis. Whether these are academic or personal goals, even the small steps bring you closer to success.

There’s also the opportunity to become overwhelmed with schoolwork and the pressure to get a good grade. This one is easy — just take a shot of reality. Or tequila.

Remember that a single paper or a test score in no way defines who you are as a person or even as a student. Try not to be too hard on yourself. It’s a redundant phrase, but there is no sense in beating yourself up over a mark.

How we meet and overcome challenges throughout our university careers says a lot more about our ability to succeed than a perfect test score. Try to keep perspective and don’t stress yourself to tears. You will see that the unneeded stress was not worth it in the end.

A new school year is upon us, and so is the chance to start fresh. Mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t try to avoid them.

Instead, learn from those mistakes, trust yourself, and establish your own success strategy that will guide you through the rest of your degree.

If you do just that, you are bound to have a successful school year. Now that I have passed on all my wisdom, I wish you all the best of luck as the new school year begins.

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