The end of the year is quickly approaching and it's a shock to us that it is. Where did the time fly? It seemed just like yesterday it was January and we were returning to Bloomington for the spring semester. And unfortunately, it is the end of April, the memories of Little 5 are now in the back of our minds and we have to hastily shake the cobwebs from our brains and focus on the two looming weeks ahead of us: Dead Week and Finals Week.
For those of you that don't know about Dead Week, Dead Week is the week preceding Finals Week where professors aren't technically allowed to make any assignments due and the whole week is dedicated to studying and reading the readings that you had "accidentally" forgotten to do all semester. Things are moving faster than you think and before you know it, you're back in your hometown, just yearning until the beautiful day in August when you can return to Bloomington for the next year.
Dead Week and Finals Week sneak up on everybody and because of this, it's easy to forget some of the small things that turn into the important things later on. That is why I have compiled a list of things that you may have missed, but certainly should not forget before the year ends.
1. Study for and complete your finals.
Nothing could be more important than this. Many of the classes that you have been taking put a lot of emphasis on the final, making it probably worth 20-40% of your final grade in the class. So making sure that you pass these finals is as important as life or death. So make sure you check with your professors what day, time, and place your finals will take place during finals week. Not all finals will take place during the scheduled class time that you've had all semester long and even worse, some finals may not take place in the same place that your class has been meeting all semester. Most professors will tell you during your last class meetings since they don't always know where/when the final is when they make their syllabus. On that note, GO TO CLASS DURING DEAD WEEK. Although it may seem very tempting to stay in bed and nurse your body back to health after Little 5, you must go to class. Some professors will still be teaching during this week and others will be reviewing for the final exam. Either way, it is imperative for you and your grade in the class to attend, so get out of bed and go to class.
Don't forget to study study study either! Many libraries on campus have extended hours for Dead Week and Finals Week so that students can study the best they can for longer. Some restaurants, including BTownMenus.com offer specials for those hard-working students who just happen to get those late-night munchies in between going over class lectures and pouring over their textbook. You can't get through college if you don't study, so STUDY. Have I made that clear?
2. Sell your books back.
Now that you have completed the course and are no longer in need of that 500 page, nap-inducing Statistics textbook, you can actually get money for them! This is great for us students because by the end of the semester, everybody is flat broke. There are many places that are willing to buy textbooks back including T.I.S, The IU Bookstore, Chegg.com, Amazon.com, and many many more. Keep your eyes out for the best bargains because some of the places don't always give you the most for your money. There are also many little kiosks around campus from many organizations that are willing to give you the most money for your books. Ask your friends and fellow students; most of us are willing to give advice to how you can get the most money out of your books (especially since you have to purchase a whole new set of textbooks come next fall).
(Hint: Some textbooks won't always be bought back because either the professor does not wish to use the textbook for the class anymore or want to use a newer edition of the book. There are also many kiosks around campus that will take any textbooks that you can't sell back and will donate those books to charities that promote literacy. Can't sell your textbook? Donate! We take books for granted, let's give them to somebody who appreciates them.)
(Hint #2: If some of your classes assigned "ClassPaks" or notebook-looking books that have included readings, graphics, etc. that are published at IU, don't bother trying to bring them to the bookstore. They'll laugh in your face. These ClassPaks are used only for IU and are being updated every single semester. So you have two options: dump it [be sure to recycle] or keep a hold of it in case one of your friends happens to take the same class next semester [even though it's not the "most updated", it still contains all the information that a student will need] help a student out and get it off your hands!)
3. Pack up your stuff.
If you're like some of my friends and are staying here in Bloomington for the summer, you're in luck. You don't really have to pack up a lot of your stuff and can sit comfortably while the rest of us run around attempting to pack up our whole entire life into a few suitcases.
Make sure you coordinate traveling plans so that you can gage how much you are willing to take with you on your trip home. Pack a little each day so that once you are done with finals and can finally breathe, you aren't bombarded with having to pack up all your clothes, shoes, bedding, and various other things that you can't seem to part with.
If you're like me and you live in a Greek house or the dorms, you have to make sure that you are taking EVERYTHING that you brought with you there. And I mean everything. Anything that is found left at a Greek house or a dorm, goes straight to the dump or is donated to charity.
The good news about having to pack up your stuff: it helps you gage what you really do need when you're here at IU and what you honestly don't need. I can't tell you how many times I brought stuff from home my freshman year thinking "I'll need this eventually" and finding that it sat in the back of my closet the whole year and having to fit it in with all of my essentials come the end of the year.
If you are moving heavy duty stuff like furniture, but don't want to have movers, then find a group of guy friends and promise to buy them pizza if they help you move your loveseat and desk to your parent's truck. You'd be surprised how willing they'd be.
4. Say your good-byes.
This has got to be the toughest part of the end of the year. You are no longer at arms-length from your friends, but are now hundreds of miles away. If you have become very close friends with some of the people on your floor, organization, class, or fraternity/sorority, make plans to Skype weekly or keep each other updated through texts or calls. You may even make plans to visit each other during the summer. I promise you that when you're stuck in the ho-hum of hometown life, nothing's better than having friends visit and being able to bring up memories from that "one time during Little 5" and laughing until your stomach hurts.
Last year, I created a very tight-knit group of me and three other girls from my sorority. We had spent almost every waking moment we could together during the spring semester and during the end of that semester; the thought of us separating from each other broke our hearts. So we created a blog that we only subscribed to each other and we would update it if we ever had a HUGE story to tell the rest of us or we just wanted to tell them how much we missed them. This worked out great. I loved the blog that we had and I still look over it from time to time, reminiscing on all of the crazy antics that my friends got into and how we had all grown between then and now.
Or what if you have a love interest that no longer lives down the hall or a short walk away? What if they live hours away from you? Here is a problem and I'm not gonna go too in-depth cause my analysis would take all day. Long story short: Let it be. If you're not in a relationship and you're just "talking" or casually "seeing each other," the best bet would be to let it be for now. Don't try to rush into a relationship that the other person is not ready for, but don't be so quick to just stop and not talk anymore (because you never know what that other person is feeling). My advice would be to somewhat keep in touch over the summer and see where the summer takes the both of you. Feelings change over the summer, trust me. Maybe one of you will return home and realize that they want to get back with an ex, maybe one of you will find another love interest during the summer, or maybe the feelings that you have for each other will stay the absolute same. Either way, let it be and enjoy yourself during the summer. If both of you return from the summer and find that you both feel the same way about each other, then something may just happen. But remember, three months is a long time. Think about how much changes over three months at IU, same thing.
Or what if you had a friend and you guys got into a fight and are no longer friends? Try to repair the bridge that you had burned. It doesn't matter who was "right" or who was "wrong". Either way, having enemies at college does not help you in the game of life. It turns out to be a small world after all and you may find yourselves intersecting paths with each other again. If you guys aren't interested in repairing your relationship or being friends again, at least make an amendment to be civil to each other. Say good-bye, tell them to have a nice summer, and move on with your lives. Life's too short you know?
5. Make plans for the summer.
This goes without saying. You want to have fun over your summer? Set some goals for yourself and make sure you reconnect with some of your hometown friends. See who's coming back for the summer and what kind of plans they have. Try to set up a BBQ or a bonfire once all of you are home so that you guys can reconnect with each other and hear about how each other's year was at their respective colleges. Remember, you're gonna be here for three months and it's nice to have company and plans to look forward to.
Set some personal goals for yourself! Want to be more healthy? Try to exercise more and eat healthier. Read more books. Get tan. Volunteer. Pick up a new skill. Reminisce on your childhood and do all the things in your hometown that you loved to do. Visit your favorite restaurant or get an ice cream cone from that new place that just popped up. Take a cool vacation. Go on a random road trip. Whatever it is, it's nice to have something interesting to tell your friends and classmates once you return in the fall when they ask you the age-old question, "What'd you do over the summer?" (I personally perused through old and used bookstores and found some of my new favorite books of all time).
Summer's also a great time to take classes that you didn't have time to this past year. Or maybe you're like me and want to take classes at a local community college that you know would be too difficult at IU. It's also way cheaper too. It's also a great time to take other classes that you would enjoy doing, like astronomy or a physical education class. It's a great way to keep your mind (or body) fit and who knows? It may transfer to IU for credit. (:
Get a job. Well, this also goes without saying. Summer is a great time for free time and with that free time, you spend money. Did you have a job in high school? Try to reconnect with your old employer and see if they're willing to give you some hours? Don't want to go back to your old job? APPLY EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE. Check out those outdoor pools or golf courses. Check with your local park district. Many of these seasonal places take seasonal workers and college students are the perfect seasonal worker because they have a very good education thus far and won't be sticking around during the fall, still looking for hours. (Hint: The minute you get home for the summer, start hunting for jobs. Put it off any longer and I promise you that you'll be competing with not only the regular people who are looking for jobs, but OTHER college students looking for jobs and high school students who are looking for jobs as well.)
6. Thank your professors.
This is just one that I put in here because I believe in karma and I believe that if you put out love, you'll get love back. So at the end of the year if you have a professor that really helped you throughout the semester or has just been an all-around good professor, be sure to let them know that they are appreciated. Whether it is just a sincere thank you after you turn in your final or shooting them an e-mail to let them know that you actually enjoyed being taught by them. Professors have semesters just as stressful as we do and they are just as relieved as the rest of us to get done, however their summer vacation doesn't start until after they grade our dreaded our finals and finally putting in our final grades into the computer. Although thanking your professors may do NOTHING to help your final grade or push you over the edge from a B to an A, it's great to do and they appreciate it. Also, you never know when you might be taught by them again, or when you'll need a recommendation letter. (; Professors talk and if one of the professors speaks highly of you, then other professors will be sure to listen in.
7. Think ahead to fall semester.
By now, you should have all your classes for next semester picked out and that's great. But do you REALLY know what you're going to be doing next fall? Although I mentioned earlier that things and feelings may change over the summer, try to set yourself some goals for next semester. Evaluate what you did over the past year and think about what you could have done better or what you had wish you had done. Regretted not joining that club this year? Next year could be your chance. Feeling like you could have done better in academics this year? Look around for tutors that could possibly help you with upcoming classes. Summer is a great time to reflect and make plans for the coming year.
As the end of the year approaches and finals have got you down, just think about this: You're officially one more year farther into college! Whether you are a freshman finishing your first year of college or a junior - just about to be a big bad senior, You've Made It!
But remember this, the years fly by. I still can't believe that I'm almost halfway done with college here at IU. In some ways it's exciting, but in some ways it's kind of sad. Either way, I'm still glad I can call myself a Hoosier for another year. (: