Graduate tips: Fight second semester burnout

Rider’s parking lot is jammed with cars; Daly’s and Cranberry’s are brimming with people; and walkways everywhere are bustling. Winter break has ended and spring semester is here.

Unfortunately, while I have physically returned, my mind is still on vacation. I find myself waiting until the last second to start assignments. It’s a classic lack of motivation, and I think many people experience this after break. Since classes and assignments aren’t going away, I instead have three tips on how to perform at your best even while adjusting to classes.

Stay disciplined

My main problem has been that vacation was fun in a way that classes are not. If there is a trick to feeling that a textbook is as exciting as going to the movies, I have yet to find it.

However, the worst thing to do is wait to feel pumped up about an assignment. Inspiration rarely strikes and work piles up until it feels overwhelming. The negative memory then makes me feel even less inclined to work in the future. Instead, force yourself to do work on time, and, at worst, feel happy as you cross something off your list. Rest assured that, as you keep doing assignments, it will also get easier.

Use the syllabus

At the start of the semester, read through the syllabus and compare all the due dates with your own schedule. One reason people lose motivation is feeling overwhelmed. Few times are as harried as when our outside lives intersect the classroom. Whether it’s celebrating a family member’s wedding, a trip with friends, or a piano recital, a major event can wreak havoc during a semester. However, while things do come up unexpectedly, if your cousin has been planning his wedding for a year, the wonderful thing about the syllabus is you can see what the assignments are before hand. Double-up on your reading and do as many of your assignments ahead of time as you can before an event. When you feel in control, you’ll feel motivated and you’ll also be more successful in the long run.

Take regular breaks

This may sound like it would encourage laziness, but the truth is people can’t keep working seven days a week. We’ll perform increasingly poorly and eventually reach a point where we can’t muster any motivation to keep pushing ourselves. With a thorough schedule, though, it is possible to give yourself a few hours off every week. Whether you spend this time with friends, watching a favorite show, taking a walk or doing something else, you’ll be surprised what a brief reprieve can accomplish. You can also think of this time as a reward, something you earn by persevering in your work.

Ultimately, while we may joke about “senioritis” and do our best to endure until summer, often our lack of motivation is less about the environment and more about bad choices. I doubt I’ll ever rush eagerly to write an essay, but it also doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. I’ve found the right amount of preparation and forethought can make the semester more manageable and, when it’s not a desperate race against the clock, I’ve actually found some classes to be surprisingly enjoyable, and I imagine you will, too.

—Adam Rivera

Business communication graduate student

 

Printed in the 2/8/17 issue.

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