College Exams

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It’s that time of year. Yes the holiday season. But also time for college exams. Whether you’re a freshman or senior, every semester when final exams roll around, the stress is still there. You would think as you get older, you would feel more prepared. But as the classes get harder, so do the exams. If you’re anything like me, you might let the stress get to you. When I’m stressed, I am STRESSED. Here are a few things I used over the years to make it through the dreaded finals week.

  • Write out every exam. Whether it be a test or presentation or final paper, write it in your calendar just as you would any social event.
  • Write out each chapter covered on the exam as well any articles and PowerPoints, or book chapters going to be covered on the exam. Then, see how many days before the exam and divvy up the chapters and PowerPoints and articles evenly to look over and study.
  • Index cards. You’ve probably been using these since high school, but they’re also good for managing your days. Make each index card into one day. Use them to keep track of meetings, class times, phone meetings, due dates, and daily to-dos.  It’s easy to pull out the stack of cards and see if you have time to schedule a study session at Starbucks or not. And for some reason, having separate cards (as opposed to one spread per week in an agenda) makes you realize how much time I actually have to work on things.  Basically, it keeps things in perspective.
  • Make sure your desk (or study space) is organized. Keep your laptop, glasses, iPad, index cards, and Sour Patch kids (anything but chocolate) within reach.
  • Take a break (that doesn’t involve eating food). Many times while studying, I would get bored and just start snacking for no reason. I’d walk to the kitchen, grab the snack, walk back to my desk, and inevitably continue working while eating whatever snack I chose. That really doesn’t even count technically as a break! Give yourself a manicure, go for a walk, read a (non-school related) book. Definitely avoid napping and online shopping during breaks.
  • Use an app to lock you out of apps on your phone or sites on your computer that you don’t need to be on while studying or writing a paper.

I could give you all the tips and tricks in the world, but the most important to remember is your identity isn’t in making an A+ on every project, presentation, and final exam. If you don’t make that A+, it is not the end of the world (although it will feel like it for a little while). Your identity is in your purpose here on Earth and the greater things you’ll do to further the Kingdom of God. So color code your planner, get a good Spotify playlist going, and grab a good cup of coffee (or two) and get to studying!

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Anonymous

anonymous

Do you ever feel hidden? Maybe you’ve moved to a new place, started a new school, accepted a new job. No one sees the extra hours you’re putting in at work or all the effort you put in around your house. Have you ever entered into a new season of life? Where you shifted from being recognized to feeling unknown. When we enter hidden seasons, we can be concealed for months or years and our potential seems to go into hibernation. We don’t know if spring will ever come and awaken us again. You may feel like you have so much more to give and be, but no one can see it but you.

There is one who can see it however. God himself. The beauty He sees in you doesn’t diminish by the season you’re in. Whether we enter hiddenness by our own deliberation (relocating for a new job) or unwillingly (grief following the loss of a loved one), we can spend years feeling that the greatest part of us is submerged in the unseen. Everyone can see only see the tip of the iceberg we really are.

We must remember the most influential person in all of history spent ninety percent of his life hidden. Only ten percent of His life was spent in the public eye. Yet all of his life He was and still is absolutely indestructible.  We know practically nothing about Jesus’ first 29 chapters of His life. Eighteen years after Jesus gets in trouble for staying in the temple, Jesus emerges from his hiddenness by the Jordan River for chapter 30.

When we say we want to “live like Jesus” most of us don’t mean the hidden years. We don’t want to spend 90% of our lives living anonymously. But Jesus embraced a life of hiddenness. These years empowered Him to live an eternally fruitful life.

Let’s consider human conception. Our lives commence in the darkness of the womb. We are knitted together but concealed. Unseen? Yes. Unimportant? Absolutely not. If this hidden phase of development is prematurely interrupted, the results can be tragic. From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are to be rested in, not rushed through and most definitely never regretted. Not applauded but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.

In moments where I am tempted to wait on the “main” course of this life. You know, the “when we get married” or “when we start a family” or “when I get my master’s degree,” I remember that my time is not some filler. God waste’s no man’s time. To Him, every “course” in our life is the main course.

Let’s imagine something for a second. Jesus had God’s divine power and calling within him every day. He woke up each morning and lived in his town unnoticed for a long time. He was not free to proclaim his mission or destiny. Everyone else was only seeing the tip of the iceberg of who He was. Most of us struggle if our callings or dreams are delayed a year, much less twenty! But in anonymous seasons, we must hold tightly to the truth that Jesus was strengthened through his hidden years. Father God is neither care-less or cause-less with how He spends our lives. When He calls us to greatness and obscurity at the same time-if we wait for it- we can change the world.

In hidden years, we may press the question of whom we will let hold the clock for the rest of our lives. When God’s timing is not our timing, whose timing will we choose? Ultimately the answer to that question depends on whom we really trust. You have to decide Father always knows best, God’s ways are perfect, and that He is never, ever late.

If you feel hidden, you are in excellent company. Savor the season and its potential. When graced with hidden years, wait because He is worth it. Keep the waters of your spirit joyful and be still while you grow.

Recently, I started doubting why I had started blogging in the first place. I felt I wasn’t reaching anyone with my words. I felt anonymous. Just a few days later, I received a letter in the mail from someone who had read my blog and appreciated the words I wrote. It reminded me when God places a calling and talent on you, He will be faithful to grow you right where you are.

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