From the Science Student Council

Wrapping up the fall semester and preparing for spring

Tips on how to make the most of your time during the break between semesters

By Tara Queen

It’s that time again. Finals have begun, the holidays are around the corner, and before you know it, another semester is starting. It is an inevitably stressful time of year that leaves many students longing for balance and a reprieve. Here are some tips to help you conquer the end-of-semester hustle and bustle and suggestions on how to start the new year on the right foot.

Tie up loose ends

Whether it be finishing up data entry or analyses or the last stages of writing a proposal, get it done. Although your best laid plans may be to plow through residual work during winter break, chances are that not everything will be completed. A better idea may be to complete the work while it’s fresh on your mind, rather than struggling to complete it over break.

Communicate with your advisor

It is a break after all, and your advisor may be planning to spend it doing something other than responding to your emails immediately. If you know you’ll need feedback on a project before break begins, set up a meeting to discuss your plans.

Set aside some time to work

Winter break is a great time to catch up on your reading. Gather that pile of journals you’ve been accumulating on your desk, get comfortable, and do some reading. You may even develop some new research ideas.

Take a break

Everyone needs a break, even if it is just a short period of time. Is there something you’ve wanted to do all semester that has been put on the back burner? Have you been longing to sleep until noon? Plan some fun activities or take some time to relax and recuperate.

Beat the spring semester rush

Before you know it, spring semester is days away and undergraduates will be returning to campus. Beat the campus rush by getting your textbooks early and copying and organizing your teaching materials (syllabi, library reservations, etc.).

Plan out your academic goals

A break is a good opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments and set future goals. Documenting your goals may be a helpful way of holding yourself accountable. What do you hope to accomplish within the next semester?  Reflect on the past semester to identify what went well and what you want to change so that you can set goals and make plans to ensure that next semester goes even more smoothly.

By planning ahead and using your time wisely, you can help ensure that you start off on the right foot this new year. Maybe you’ll even have more time to “break” between semesters!


Tara L. Queen, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, is the developmental psychology representative on the APASSC. Her research interests are focused on judgment and decision making across the adult lifespan.