Five Tips for Finishing the Semester (Term) Strongly

Even with just a few weeks left in a semester, students can make strategic moves to improve academic performance, raise grades, and finish strongly.

In my experience as a college professor, with just a few weeks before the semester or term ends, students begin to get concerned (some even a bit panicky) about their grades. And while ideally you should be just as concerned on the first day of classes and throughout the semester, I understand that the end approaching is a trigger point.

Every semester I have ever taught, the last few weeks of the semester see many more emails and office visits by students concerned about their performance and wondering what they can do to finish the semester strongly.

Given these experiences and my many years as a college professor, let me share with you my five tips and strategies for finishing the semester strongly.

How to Finish the Semester Strongly: Five Tips

1. Take Stock. If you have not done so already, now is the time to jump online and calculate your standing within all your classes -- and examine what graded items remain in each class.

Specifically, examine:

  • Your grade in each class based on your performance to date.

  • Assignments and exams left -- and how they can positively impact your final grade.

  • Any make-ups or re-submits you were given but have not completed yet.

2. Make a Game Plan. Once you know where you stand -- and what graded assignments are left -- develop a plan for maximizing your efforts on your remaining coursework.

Specifically, try these tips:

  • Find more hours for schoolwork (including cutting work hours if you can).

  • Limit distractions, including non-school technology and social interactions.

  • Focus on the most important (and heavily-weighted) graded projects remaining.

3. Get Help. While it's always best to get help sooner rather than later, there's no time like the present to find the academic support you need to boost your performance.

Specifically, use these resources:

  • Your professor should be able to provide additional insights; schedule an appointment.

  • Utilize the academic success office at your college for additional tips and resources.

  • Use or hire a tutor for the one or two key subjects that concern you the most.

4. Stay Healthy. The end of the semester is the worst time to get sick -- and yet so many students do get sick, and fall further behind academically. Do not be one of those students.

Specifically, protect yourself from illness with these tips:

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep recharges your brain and helps keep your cells healthy.

  • Eat well. Skip the junk food and sugary drinks (and booze) -- and eat real food.

  • Exercise regularly (assuming you are healthy enough to do so). Exercise is good both for your body and your brain.

5. Reward Yourself. For each major goal you achieve -- writing a paper, putting more hours into studying, whatever -- give yourself a small treat as an incentive for pushing yourself harder. Just don't overdo the rewards; save the big reward for after you have finished the semester successfully and received your grades.

Some Final Thoughts on Finishing the Semester Strongly

Remember to try and stay positive, even when the outlook is not so rosy. Use positive self-talk to help motivate you to achieve your best in the limited time left in the semester.

Finally, do not let the pressure of the end of the semester get to you, but if that happens, get additional coping mechanisms and counseling from your school's health services office.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key academic terms by going to our College Success Glossary

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Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including

He has been a college professor for about three decades.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.

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