Once upon a time in high school there was a week designated for midterm exams. In undergraduate, there was a cluster of exams around one period we called midterms. Now, I’d like to say that in the first place, I don’t really understand the principle of them. Yes, I get that we need to be tested…but why do we get an entire week to study for finals when midterms are exactly same thing, but there is everything else going on at the same time? Someone please explain that.
Grad school, however, is a different story. I have been hearing “it’s midterms week” for about four weeks now, and I can’t remember what day of the week it is, let alone if we’re actually at a midmark of the semester. (True story: last week I spent the first 2 hours of Wednesday thinking it was Tuesday and almost didn’t go to work. It’s a good thing I pack my bag the night before and realized it before I left the house!) The morale of my midterms rant is that the work just keeps coming in streams vs. one block of time that makes you want to pull your hair out.
This semester is not about pushing through one week of hell for a month of easy coasting. It is a marathon of 4 months and the key to winning the race is endurance and pacing. It’s a marathon in many ways:
1. You cannot sprint the whole way or you will crash and burn, probably with an injury or illness along the way.
2. You need fuel to make it to the end. This means enough quality rest and regular, balanced, nutritious meals.
3. You have to have a goal in mind. You don’t just start running a marathon without knowing how many miles to the end or what you will accomplish by finishing. You have to remember the big picture; in my case – becoming a speech pathologist. The end of this semester brings me that much closer to the end goal.
4. You need to take breaks. In a marathon there are water stations along the way, in grad school there are weekends and nights off. It’s easy to keep going in an attempt to get ahead of the next person or make it to the end faster, but taking the breaks pays off in the end. Slow and steady wins the race.
On that last note, I’ve been guilty of pushing through a little bit too much lately. Tomorrow, I’m going home to recoup and get ready for another leg of the marathon, knowing that Monday brings November and a whole new month of challenges.