Academic Success Tip - Stress Resilience

It's that time in the semester when stress begins to escalate to new levels of intensity.  However, now is also the time when you need to use your best stress resilience skills.  Stress that is out of control can lead to illness, anxiety, lessened concentration, lack of sleep, and many other problems.  Below are a few tips on managing your stress for the remainder of the semester.

  • Put grades in perspective.  Grades are not equal to who you are as a person.  You have knowledge of the course, talents, character strengths, and other skills that go beyond that one exam.  We have many extraordinarily gifted and successful graduates in law practice and on the bench who will openly state that they graduated in the “great middle” of their class.  For courses with the only grade attached to the final exam, the grade only measures how you performed on that limited set of questions on that day during 3 or 4 hours.
  • All you can ask of yourself is to do the best that you can.  No one can do better than his or her best.  The important thing is to do as well as you can within your intellectual capabilities, talents, and skills.  Our best does not always get us an “A” grade, but it does get us self-respect.    
  • Do not dwell on what you have no control over.  You cannot control the days of your exams in most cases.  You cannot control the questions on your exams.  You cannot control paper deadlines.  You cannot control how a professor grades.  Do not waste time wishing that you had control over these things.  Focus instead on what you can control.
  • Do not dwell on what you did not do earlier in the semester.  You cannot change that you did not study enough during the first part of the semester.  You cannot change that you did not choose the best course load.  You cannot change that you did not find a study partner earlier.  You cannot change that you did not do practice questions earlier. You cannot change that you did not outline earlier.  Regrets get you no further along the path to exam success.  Make a note to change next semester.  But for now, spend time and energy focusing on what you can still control.    
  • Take control of what YOU can control.  You can ask your professors questions about material you do not understand.  You can study with classmates to gain new or broader perspectives on the material.  You can ask a professor to look at an outline to see if you are on the right track.  You can do more practice questions.  You can set up a structured time management schedule for each remaining week to distribute tasks more effectively.  You can use study aids to help you understand material that is still vague.  You can use breaks to increase your focus during intense study periods.  You can use rewards to keep yourself motivated.