Preparing for my first ever college finals week

The last week of classes begins tomorrow, and then I’ll just have a few finals to complete before my first semester of college is finished. As a high school student, college finals week seemed profoundly intimidating, like an academic marathon, but so far I haven’t been too stressed about them.

Two of the classes I was enrolled in this semester ended months ago, so I only have finals for four classes. Not all finals are created equal, so this weekend I planned out what I have to do for each class.

If you are a college student trying to get organized, or a high school student curious about what to expect from finals week, here is how I organized all the information I need to know before finals week.

I organized my notes in my bullet journal, but if you like to have things digitally, a Google doc or Google sheet would work well.

For each class I wrote the date of the final, as well as how long I have to work on it, since it varies from class to class. In one class, I have an exam that starts exactly at 12:30pm, but for another final exam the test is open between 10am and 10pm, though I’ll only have two hours to take it once I open the test.

One of my finals is just an essay, and another is a combination of multiple elements, so I also wrote down what format each final is in.

I also wrote down which days I will spend studying for tests and drafting essays. Closer to finals week, I will block off specific time for preparing for finals on my Google calendar.

Luckily, I don’t have any cumulative exams, which has also relived some of my worries about finals week. I have one essay that encompasses the whole unit, but I can choose what I want to include to support my thesis. The tests I am taking in finals week only cover the most recent units of my classes. I noted what information will be covered for each of my finals as well.

Finally, I wrote my current grade in each class to remind myself of how I am positioned grades-wise before the final.

I originally wrote out all this information on a Google doc, which is fine if you want easy access to your notes online. However, I keep a bullet journal where I organize my school work, so I transferred these notes to physical paper, which helps me see what I need to do visually. I also left a portion of the paper blank so I can add any extra notes or tasks that come up later.

It can seem overwhelming to think about all the work you have to do, but I find that just breaking the tasks down and organizing them is an easy first step that can make the work ahead seem more manageable.

Good luck with your classes!

Making a voting plan for 2020


Holding up my mail in ballot and wearing an "I voted today" sticker.

I recently sent in my ballot, casting my vote in a general presidential election for the first time ever. The pandemic has complicated the voting process, but nevertheless I was excited to participate in the process. I chose to vote by mail because I got a request form in the mail and it seemed like an easy way to get my vote in ahead of the election, while potentially avoiding lines at a physical polling place.

If you are eligible to vote this election and have not figured out how you are going to do that yet, make a voting plan! That starts with registering to vote. If you want to vote at an Iowa address, you can do that on this website.  If you aren’t sure about your registration address or status, you can check that on the Hawk the Vote website.

Next, you should figure out how you want to vote. You can vote by mail, vote early at in-person satellite locations, or vote on election day, November 3. It is key to plan ahead if you don’t want to vote on election day. For mail voters, ballot requests (note: not the actual ballots) need to be received by Iowa county auditors by October 24. The actual ballots need to be sent back by November 2. You can track your absentee ballot on this webpage.

Picture of a notebook with an "I voted today" sticker inside.
I keep a notebook where I track the elections I voted in.

For more details on how to register to vote and the different voting format, here are some helpful links:

If you haven’t already, please take the time to check out these resources and figure out how you will be casting your ballot this election.