Study with enemies, let the haters motivate
College is hard. Class is hard. Life is hard. Sometimes, it’s so hard that you have to stay up until 4 a.m. doing homework after three consecutive days of your life being easy because you weren’t doing the work—but also stressful, because you weren’t doing the work. Ah yes, the unending cycle of self-hatred and binge-watching season two of “Stranger Things” when you have two exams the next day. Maybe this should be an article about strategies to improve self-control and tips to stay motivated while studying. Alas, I do not have those answers, nor do I foresee myself following my own advice. No, I’m here to give advice for what to do and where to go when it’s 11 p.m. and you’ve done absolutely nothing.
Don’t study with friends. Study with enemies.
Your friends don’t help you work. No, they don’t. They’ll ask you one Quizlet question about the genetics of berries. And then, all of a sudden, you’re discussing your interaction with Paul, the cute guy on your floor, in Paws & Go, and how you both bought the same berries. Oh—and you think he has the same astrology sign as you because you creeped on his Facebook and saw his birthday, but there was also a girl in his profile picture. It had to be his sister, right? Or does he have a brother? You will never learn the genetics of those berries. If you want to avoid long, time-consuming talks about Paul, study with your enemies. You won’t want to talk to them unless you absolutely must, and you’ll fact check everything they tell you because you think they’re trying to sabotage you; so, you’ll learn the material even better.
Don’t study in your room. Just don’t.
There is no accountability in your room. You know what you do in your room alone. I don’t actually know, I’m just assuming everyone has to do at least one questionable thing when they’re by themselves. In your room, there’s no one to say “don’t do that,” “why?” or “is scrolling through Facebook really more important than at least reading the study guide at 2 a.m. the night before the exam?” You need to ask those questions. They fuel you. Your room affords too much distraction with too little accountability. Also, it’s just not fun to wake up in bed surrounded by papers, having typed a thousand pages of nonsense with your forehead and having yet to accomplish anything you needed to. It’s too comfy. Go somewhere else.
Space out your drinks. Stop twitching.
Three cups of coffee in one hour is stupid. Treat it like alcohol: One standard drink an hour should pull you through. There’s no reason to bulk the caffeine because I know from experience that you’ll just be so wired you won’t be able to do anything. And then, you’ll crash really hard, with a lot of drool. So, really: coffee = alcohol. No one likes to read a paper that sounds like your little brother wrote it post-Halloween candy binge. So, if you want to sound sane, just ride out the caffeine. Don’t jump the gun.
There are very few options on campus for coffee-related caffeine after midnight. I recommend either discovering your taste for Monster Energy Drink (straight gasoline) or buying a bunch of Dunkin Donuts coffees from Paws & Go and riding those out. You need to plan ahead for an all-nighter (or even a most-of-the-nighter).
Choose your building wisely. People can be cruel.
If you hunker down in a study room in Simon Hall, you will get kicked out at midnight. You will be surrounded by crusts of Domino’s Pizza, mid-4th page of the most convoluted argument you’ve ever written with a top header that takes up half the page when the clean-up crew will force you to leave. You can always go to Olin Library, though the vibe is more than a little bit despondent and hopeless. I’ve personally found myself there at 10 p.m. on a Friday night, watching “Magic Mike” because I made the responsible decision to say I was going to study but then couldn’t pull through and wanted to at least FEEL like I was out on the town. There is just a little too much anonymity in that dark place.
Bauer Hall hits the sweet spot on all fronts. If you make it in before midnight, you can stay there until the wee hours of the morning; everything echoes—so, you can’t talk (if you do, I kind of sort of hate you, but I also am you); and there are study rooms if you need to be surrounded by floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, a camera and a TV. I have found myself waking up on the floor of a Bauer study room at 6 a.m. trying to piece together “Memento”-like notes written over all the walls—a half-drunk, zero-sugar Monster lying next to me and a completed assignment lighting up my laptop. All in all, Bauer is my spot of choice.
Just send an email. What else do you have to lose?
Ask for an extension. Wing the exam. Check out Student Health Services’ strategies to stop procrastinating. Give yourself a break and just breathe. Your professor went to college. They understand. Then, wake up the next morning and do the thing. It’s 11 p.m., and your mental health is just as important as your GPA.