How to Handle an End-of-Semester Slump in College

A couple months back I wrote a post called How to Conquer the Mid-Semester Slump, and it made me realize that another slump happens right before those dreaded finals you have to take.

By this time, college students are feeling completely burned-out because they’ve done nothing but read endless amounts of text, write numerous papers, and prepare for big projects.

It’s hard to see the end in sight when you have a wall of back-to-back tests staring you down.

As sluggish as you may feel at this point, it’s EXTREMELY crucial that you get over whatever end-of-semester slump you’re experiencing because your finals are going to count for points – most likely a lot of them.

How to Handle an End-of-Semester Slump in College | Finals got you down? Preparing for exams is only half the battle as a student. Here are some tips for getting good grades without pulling an all-nighter or completely wearing yourself out.

Planning is Literally Everything

By now, your brain is probably mush and you’re wondering how in the world you’ve made it this far. The world can’t expect you to fit an entire semester’s worth of course content into your brain just so you can regurgitate it onto final exams for a week!

Unfortunately, that is the expectation for a lot of you, and that’s why making a plan for yourself is one of the most important things you can do.

Look, every decision you make throughout the day requires brain power and exerts your general ability to get motivated.

That choice you made in the morning about which clothes you wanted to wear?

Yeah, that’s affecting your ability to sit down and study later on.

One way to approach this time of year is to plan for the worst – with the worst being a complete slump and brain shutdown.

Don’t worry… Many college students experience a slump of some sort because there is a lot to learn and all the studying can be really draining on the mind and body.

In order to prepare you for this, you’ll want to make a very detailed plan for everything that needs to get done and how long you are going to spend on some of these things.

To start, I recommend writing down a study schedule in your planner.

For example, you may decide to study English from 1-2, take a break for 15 minutes, and then study Biology for another hour. After that, you take a little longer of a break to rejuvenate your mind.

How detailed you want to get is up to you, but I highly recommend writing down at least a basic idea of what you need to study and how long.

Another step you may want to take after you have everything written down is to write individual to-do lists for every day that you have leading up to your last day of finals.

Personally, I would use sticky notes, but the date on the top, and then use bullet points to outline my day. I placed the sticky note right on my laptop or desk (put it somewhere you’ll see it), and I crossed things out as I completed them.

This little step not only helped me save some brain power because I had everything already outlined for my day, but it also motivated me because I could see my progress as I worked through my list and crossed things out.

Those little rewards really are everything, especially when you are feeling a college student slump!

Make Sure to Schedule Relaxation Time

I know that some students will pull all-nighters and study for hours on end, but the truth is that your brain needs time to process the information you’re feeding it.

If you’ve been studying for an hour, give yourself a short break. Maybe try reaching out to the folks at to get back in the right frame of mind.

This would be a great time to grab a healthy snack or to do a little exercise before you jump into the next thing.

You should also give yourself some true relaxation time at some point throughout the day.

I really liked to have some “me” time toward the evening, but do whatever you think is going to work best for you. Journal, watch Netflix, take a nice hot shower, or go do something with a friend… And don’t feel guilty that you’re doing this!!!

Remember, being a successful college student requires learning how to balance not only your studies, but your well-being as well. Don’t neglect yourself or you’ll end up in an even worse slump than before (and that will kill your motivation for next semester)!

How to Handle an End-of-Semester Slump in College | Finals got you down? Preparing for exams is only half the battle as a student. Here are some tips for getting good grades without pulling an all-nighter or completely wearing yourself out.

Create a “Needs” vs. “Wants” List

This is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

To this day, I still use this approach and it helps me to not only be productive, but to maintain a consistent work ethic even when I’m not feeling at my best.

The process is simple – All you need to do is create a list in your planner or calendar and divide it into two sections:

  • Needs
  • Wants

From there, list everything that HAS to get accomplished on that day under the “Needs” section and list those things that can wait under the “Wants” section.

Use this as a starting block for creating your schedule and outlining your day.

The beauty of this trick is that you don’t see a giant list of things to do and think that it all has to be completed in a given day. This helps your brain to say, “Hey, this is manageable. I can do this!”

Allot Extra Time for Subjects You Struggle With

As a college student who wants to be successful, you need to know what your academic strengths and weaknesses are.

For me, it was math.

I was awful with math for some reason and even though I went in for extra help, I still couldn’t seem to grasp all of the subjects.

When my finals came around, I knew that I would need to allot more time in my study schedule for math than for English, my strongest subject.

So I want you to be honest with yourself – Which subject(s) do you struggle with the most?

Make sure your study schedule reflects your answers.

Study Your Hardest Subject Before Bed

Yes, you do need to sleep (a good amount) during these last few weeks of school.

Pulling an all-nighter really does nothing more than affect your brain and cause you to forget the information you were working so hard to learn in the first place.

Instead of tiring yourself out, try studying your hardest subject before bed.

When you wind down at night and fall asleep, your brain has a chance to process everything it has taken in that day. When you focus on your hardest subject right before bed, you are putting this information at the forefront for processing.

I know that this routine helped me much more than staying up late to cram information. In fact, I felt like I could do a quick review in the morning of that material and actually remember it quite well. Give it a try!

How to Handle an End-of-Semester Slump in College | Finals got you down? Preparing for exams is only half the battle as a student. Here are some tips for getting good grades without pulling an all-nighter or completely wearing yourself out.

Slumps Happen – College Student or Not

You’re going to have ups and downs as you go through life – it’s normal!

But you have to make a choice… Are you going to let the pressure get to you and let it prevent you from doing something great? Or are you going to work through the knots, push through, and come out stronger and victorious in the end?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter! Are you experiencing a college student slump right now (or just a slump in general)? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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