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    Jeremy Papasso

    CU freshman Danielle Bowen studies in Buckingham Hall on Friday. As far as studying goes, she says, "It's way more work than high school."

  • CU freshman Chela Garcia Irando studies in the UMC last...


    CU freshman Chela Garcia Irando studies in the UMC last week.



It’s crunch time at the University of Colorado, that time of year when students are loaded down with academics and social activities they’re trying to cram through with little more than a month left before finals.

Students across the Boulder campus are cracking down on study time and rushing to finish their assignments — and juggle the upcoming fall break over Thanksgiving week — so they can get started studying for finals. But for freshmen, the pressure can be heightened with no previous experience to help guide them through the rest of the semester.

Go the distance

Five tips for making it to winter break:

1. Set a schedule: Set aside weekly study times and stick with them.

2. Exercise: Being active can help reduce overall stress and increase concentration.

3. Study groups: Helping others can help measure your own knowledge of a subject.

4. Don’t get distracted: Concentrate on classes. Don’t get distracted by holiday plans. You’re not done yet.

5. Determination: Don’t give up. There’s only a month left. You can do it.

Source: John Fox, CU’s associate director of residence life

“Everything in college is a lot different than high school and I have not completely transitioned yet,” freshman Ally Mueller said. “I’m feeling stressed.”

But Mueller’s not alone. Several CU freshmen said they already are stressed about finals, which begin Dec. 11, and getting everything done when there only are a few weeks left until the end of the semester.

John Fox, CU’s assistant director of residence life, said that at this point in the fall semester, students are realizing they only have a month left to get the grade they want. And some only have a final exam left to try and influence that final grade, he said.

“This is the first time freshmen are experiencing college-level final exams,” Fox said. “Plus, they have an added level of anxiety because they don’t know what to expect.”

Mueller said the semester would have been easier if she knew what classes and exams were going to be like compared to high school.

“I feel (stressed) because at the beginning of the semester, I was not ready for the way the professors lecture and the way they gave tests and I did not do very well,” Mueller said. “Because of that, I am fighting to bring up my grades for the end of the semester.”

Fox said the unknown can make an already stressful situation seem worse then it is for some students.

Freshman Sarah Buder said she’ll spend the better part of the remaining semester at the library cramming for finals and pushing through her last few assignments.

“It’s scary not knowing what to expect,” Buder said. “That makes it hard to study for finals and adds even more pressure to an already tense week.”

Buder said she hopes that once she has a full semester under her belt, she’ll be better prepared and less stressed during the spring semester.

Fox said final grades often are a reality check pushing struggling students to learn from their mistakes and giving successful students the confidence they need to keep up the hard work.

“College professors are likely not as forgiving as high school teachers are,” Fox said. “The hope is that students can identify what their individual issues were in the fall and learn from those for better results in the spring.”

Freshman Christian Lee-Fatt said he’s definitely feeling the pressure to finish strong, but he already has a plan for getting through to winter break.

“I already have a schedule set up for the rest of the semester to help me get everything done,” Lee-Fatt said. “I didn’t do great in high school, so now that I’m a lot more concerned about my grades I make sure I’m organized so I can get everything done.”

Fox said organization, along with exercise and determination, are the keys to surviving the semester for first-year students.

Freshman Orphea Wright said she’s planning to be overwhelmed starting immediately after Thanksgiving break, especially because she won’t be doing any schoolwork during those days off.

“I need a break,” Wright said. “I’m going home to spend time with family and I’m not even taking a single textbook with me. Hopefully I can come back and get it done.”

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