How to Make It to the End of the Semester

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We're rapidly approaching the end of the semester. Many students are completely enervated, lacking motivation to do the simplest tasks. I told someone recently that Thursdays feel like trying to roll up a hill. On the other hand, any semblance of control is hurtling downward in the opposite direction. Perhaps spring fever is more contagious than the Black Plague. Maybe it's Maybelline. No matter the source, there is a ubiquitous sentiment that students (and teachers) are ready for the term to end and summer to arrive. 

Aesop told a story about an epic race between two unlikely contenders. In his fable about the tortoise and the hare, the great storyteller reveals the moral: "slow and steady wins the race." Unfortunately, I (along with other college kids) adopt the bunny's break-neck speed that can actually hamper the process of moving along the semester. 

At perhaps the most intense moment of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey's character is faced by what seems to be an insurmountable task. His robotic companion advises him, "It's not possible." He stoically replies, "No, it's necessary." 


We are at this part of the semester. It may seem impossible, but we have to keep moving forward. Recently, in a class full of seniors, our professor asked, "How many days do you have left." A chorus from the back row sang out, "Thirty-nine!" One Facebook-age adage might encourage us to not only count the days, but also make the days count. It is just hard to stay focused.

The grass is greener. The weather is warmer. The bed is softer. The papers are longer. Final exams are looming. It seems like all of the factors are moving against productivity. 

At the end of The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee delivers one of the most epic speeches to encourage Frodo to keep going. Here's a selection: 

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something... That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it’s worth fighting for.
— Samwise Gamgee

This is your chance to turn back. You can quit. You can give up. But that's not what you signed up for. You came here to make yourself better. You came here to get ready for the next phase of life. You came here to finish.

When the cards are stacked up against you, realize that you are not alone. Often times, we can feel isolated, as if we are the first students to take finals, or the only one of our friends to have papers to write. Clearly that is not the case. John Donne once penned, "No man is an island," and that is still true today. Remember that you are a part of a student body and that everybody is walking through this time together.

It is also important to keep the faith. Oftentimes, in stressful times of life, I find myself guilty of neglecting spiritual disciplines as I try to resolve problems and overcome challenges in my own strength. Before the last (of five) performance(s) of Twelfth Night, Dr. Seawright reminded our cast that, as believers, we draw our strength from the Lord. She recited the famous eagle passage from Isaiah 40, and we went on to what I thought was a fine performance. I later reflected on Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Finally, remind yourself of your motivation for being at school. Everyone has a different dream. This dream is what pushes you forward. Maybe you don't know what your dream is. Work to refine your talents and discover something that compels you to move forward. I read Winner's Dream by Bill McDermott over the summer. He said, "Winning was a process, not a destination. Victory, a state of mind." Renew your focus, and finish strong.

Drink your coffee, turn up your study music, get in the zone, and make it to the end of the semester.

Andrew, Senior Blogger, Movie Fan, Intramural Soccer Player

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