Young man writing on desk

Midterm exams are coming up and you probably have a lot on your plate.

Studying for so many important tests all in one week can be challenging and stressful—and a whole lot of pressure!

To help you manage the stress and get into the right mindset, we chatted with the mental health counselors at FRCC.

Here are some tips and suggestions for getting into the right headspace as you turn on study mode this month:

Make a Schedule and Stay Organized

Hands on day planner

Ashley Connolly, mental health counselor at FRCC’s Boulder County Campus, says that organization and planning help tremendously with stress management. So put those midterm dates (or project due dates) on the calendar and develop a detailed study schedule that works backward from there. Prioritize your studying so that the most difficult midterms get the most attention.

This will require planning ahead. “Rather than continuing with a poor process, making that change up front can make all the difference in midterm preparation and save a student so many headaches,” she says. “The cost of a poor routine is so much higher than the inconvenience of changing it.”

Be Disciplined Throughout the Semester

Many of us struggle with procrastination, but Ashley advises students to remember that staying on top of school work leading up to midterms makes the tests easier. “What works for many students is to ask themselves if avoiding school work is worth the problems and stress that doing so causes later on,” she says.

“Having the discipline to sit down and do the work takes practice, but it helps when students set goals for themselves and keep those goals in mind—whether they want to achieve certain grades or finish work by the weekend to enjoy that hike or movie with friends.”

Build Your Stress Tolerance

person lying on ground relaxing

Ashley’s other piece of advice to students is to develop their tolerance for stress. “Stress is part of life. And for college students, a little stress is good—it’s what motivates and gets students going—but it’s important to find that balance,” she says.

“Students need to recognize that they are in control of their stress. When stress is too high and pushes them into diminished performance, they need to rely on healthy strategies to bring it back to a manageable level.”

Lean on Your Support System

Kathleen Strong, mental health counselor at the Larimer Campus, suggests that students recognize that there’s whole team of people on their side every step of the way. “There are support departments and lots of resources on campus.” From the staff at the academic success center to advisors and counselors and the helpful folks in financial aid, there are people at FRCC who can help with just about any problem.  

“And if students have family, friends, colleagues or others who are behind them, they should lean on them,” she says. “That’s a great way to minimize anxiety. Nobody should do college totally alone.”

Take Advantage of Free Counseling

FRCC students get six free counseling sessions per semester, so whether you need someone to talk to regularly or just occasionally, it’s a service worth taking advantage of. The counseling teams are committed to helping students achieve a balanced life—and they’re here to help.

Too often, students wait to ask for help until their situation feels helpless. If you think you might need some assistance, make sure to initiate a conversation with counselors early in the semester so that the support system is in place. Then it’s truly stress management and not crisis management.

Take Care of the Very Basics

people serving themselves food from a table

Katie Almond, mental health counselor at the Westminster Campus, says that during midterms (and always), students must remember to take care of themselves. “Eat a balanced diet, drink enough water and get enough sleep every night,” she recommends. (Remember, even minor tasks are harder when you’re sleep deprived, and a poor diet can lead to brain fog, fatigue and sluggishness.)

“Those core basics ensure students are feeling their best and able to cope with stress when it comes their way.”

Reach Out to Teachers for Additional Guidance and Support

Katie also reminds students not to go it alone. “Now is a great time to connect with teachers if you haven’t already and assess where you are in the semester.”

They might even have some helpful study tips for you. “Follow up on any ‘blind spots’ and topics you still aren’t quite grasping, and collaborate on a plan,” she says.

Give Yourself a Little Grace

Katie also says to remember that your grade in any class is not dependent on just one exam or assignment. “Sometimes students get so overwhelmed and focused on a particular test, assignment or class that they forget the reason they’re in a class to begin with,” she says.

Do your best, but don’t panic if it doesn’t go smoothly. “College is about the journey, not the destination. And as a student, it’s about progress, not perfection.” Be kind to yourself—and when necessary, cut yourself a little slack.

Man studying

Do What Works for You

Last tip: When it comes to studying, do it in ways that work best for you. Katie suggests connecting with classmates to study together, changing up the location and time for those study sessions and finding what works best.

“Remember to give yourself a ‘brain and body break’ every hour or so during midterm studying,” she adds. “Your brain and body need it!” 

Give It a Rest

Breaks are a good thing, so be sure to check out one of the events happening at FRCC. Check out the FRCC calendar and join your peers for something fun. Coming up:

  • Pumpkin Patch at the Westminster Campus
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest at the Larimer Campus
  • International Short Film Festival at the Boulder County Campus
  • And more later this month…

After you get through midterms, you might appreciate a little fun. Make sure to celebrate even the small victories.

Good luck with the studying! You’ve got this.

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