Around the country, college campuses are finishing their semesters. While your families are thinking peppermint mochas and gift wrap, you’re probably running back and forth from the library to professors’ offices, maybe also holding a peppermint mocha. Finals week is no fun. It’s an unsanitary, stressful, hectic time, in which the weather is usually either overcast or snowy … or both!
The worst part is that you know most of it could be better, and you know it’s mostly your fault. You’d probably made plans to start studying earlier, take better notes and generally act more like those students who have it all figured out. If you’re being honest, though, are you really going to do all that? The more complicated your resolution, the less likely it is to occur.
Here’s an easier solution you can actually accomplish in a single day, which will make every finals week so much easier: Stack your schedule based on the final exam. Email some of the professors you plan to take in the spring with a simple question: What is the format of your final exam?
Knowing this can help you strategize your efforts. For instance, try not to take classes with all multiple choice exams in the same semester, because there’s only so much cramming a brain can do. Try not to take too many classes in which you turn in a final paper, because you can only format so many citations before your hair falls out. You can even use this strategy to make the whole week make better sense: If you have to take two math classes and you hate math, schedule them the same semester as courses with final papers. That way, you can turn in your final papers before finals week begins, and all you have to do during finals week is math. No distractions!
You can do a lot of the same things with your budget. Just like with finals week, the end of the month is the time you make strong resolutions to make better decisions, even when you know you’ll be going out way too late on school nights next month, too. Of course, going out late on school nights is how you get into trouble with school and money at the same time.
So, let’s apply the same principles as we did to finals week. Go through your budget and find out when your bills are due. You can often change the date with a simple phone call. Spend some time this month rearranging your bills to come out the day after you get paid, spread out for each of your paychecks. That way, you never see money in your account that you can’t spend, because the money you need to pay the bills will disappear immediately.