We are in the homestretch for the Fall semester and the completion dates for final assignments are drawing nearer. The weight of end of term assignments may be adding a significant amount of pressure and stress to your life. It’s normal to feel stressed during this time of the year. When you find that the stress is becoming too overbearing, stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath and remind yourself of your end goal.
The key to finishing off these last two weeks of school successfully is not to let your assignments bombard you. In order to help you do so, I have a few tips I would like to share with you.
Look over your due dates for your assignments.
Once you familiarize yourself with when your assignments are due then you can start to block off time in your schedule to work on them. That may mean you have to shift some things around, like your daily trip to the grocery store or a meeting with friends. Also, once you know when all of your assignments are due, you’ll be able to distinguish which one you should start working on first.
Pay Attention to the weight of your assignments
Carefully look over how much your assignments are worth. The weight of an assignment tells you a lot about how much time and effort is expected. This is also a good thing to pay attention to when dealing with multiple assignments that are due within a few days of each other. For example:
Say you have two assignments that you need to finish. Assignment #1 is due next week and Assignment #2 is due December 1st. The obvious choice is to work on Assignment #1 because the due date is closer. But what if Assignment #2, which is due December 1st, is a 10-page essay worth 20% of your overall grade, whereas Assignment #1 is a reading response worth 10%?
Which one do you do first?
The answer is both. In a situation like this, you will have to apply a little bit of multitasking. While you’re working on Assignment #1 you will need to be thinking about Assignment #2. Thinking about Assignment #2 is as easy as selecting the topic you want to write about and/or talking to your professor after class for clarification on your topic, and finding resources to support your topic or going to the library to ask the Learning Commons about research techniques. It’s a good idea to get all of the small, nit-picky things out of the way early so that when the time comes for you to focus solely on Assignment #2, you already have a foundation to build from.
2. Receive Guidance at the earliest possible date
Seek clarification for assignments from your instructors.
If you don’t quite understand what is expected of you for an assignment, take advantage of your Tutorial Leader or your Professor’s office hour. Your Professor and TA are able to give you the best insight about an assignment because they are the ones grading it and can tell you what they’re expecting. I can honestly say that some of the assignments I did my best on were the ones that I talked over with my instructor.
If you find you’re not getting exactly what you need from your TA or Professor, then think about going to the Learning Commons or the Writing Centre. These services may require that you schedule an appointment with them in advance. You can book appointments for the aforementioned resource centres by following the links below:
Learning Commons: Appointments are on a drop-in basis. Visit the drop-in desk located on the Second Floor of Scott Library. Follow the link for more information: http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/learning-commons/assist/
Writing Centre: http://www.yorku.ca/laps/writ/centre/
Spark – Student Papers & Academic Research Kit
Spark is a great resource to use if you’re struggling with how to approach your assignments: http://www.yorku.ca/spark/
This is an online resource that talks about: how to understand your assignment, how to manage your time, how to choose your topic and how to access books and online journals.
Your fist step when working on your assignments should involve researching your topics.
Do not wait too long to start collecting your research resources for assignments, especially if you are uncertain about how to navigate online journals or how to find books at the libraries located on campus. Once you decide on a topic for your assignment the FIRST thing you should do is start your research. If you are asked to use resources other than class readings, you may need to access scholarly journals. The library has a tutorial on how to access journal articles here: http://researchguides.library.yorku.ca/journalarticles
You can also go over to the Learning Commons on the second floor of Scott Library and sit down with a librarian to help you find sources to support your topic.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to research information for your assignment topic as soon as you are able to. The research you are able to retrieve and successfully analyze can make or break your assignment. It is the difference between getting a passing or failing grade on an essay, etc. You may want to do a certain topic, but if the research is not there to support your claim, then you are back to square one. It’s better to find out whether you have enough information to complete your assignment sooner rather than later.
4. Know your limitations
I received the following advice from a peer mentor at ACMAPS: You need to know what you can handle, not pay attention to everyone else because everyone is different.
We all have our own limitations that prevent us from making school our top priority every day of the week. Limitations can be family responsibilities, work duties, volunteer activities—anything that affects the way that you attend to your schoolwork. Once you realize those limitations, you’ll then be able to plan around them and find the most opportune time for you to focus on your assignments.
The last thing I want you to know is that you are not the only one who is dealing with impending due dates. Don’t let the frustration consume you. Sometimes the best way to get you through a tough day of school work is to talk about it with someone who is experiencing some of the same stressors. This is where ACMAPS and our peer mentors come in!