Finals have always been talk of the future, and now that time is here. Don’t be scared if you feel unprepared, because chances are you’re better off than you think. It’s easy to get caught up the hype and stress of finals, so here are some tips to help you keep your cool.

First, take the time to plan. Know what finals you have to take and when you have to take them. Also, find out what you have to know for each exam. Is it cumulative? Or is it just the last three chapters you’ve learned? Last, plan out when you’re going to study for each final. Making a schedule for yourself can keep you from wasting time and not being sure where to start when the time arrives.

Once you have your plans, put them to action. Make study guides, and study groups. Having all the information you need to know in front of you is extremely helpful, as well as collaborating with others. They can explain things to you that you may not understand, and discussing information out loud will help you remember.

Next, put your finals “survival kit” together. This usually include snacks, caffeine, water, headphones and anything else to keep you ready to go and in the zone.

Lastly, ace your finals! You’ve prepared for these all semester, and studied hard over the past few days. You’re going to do awesome.

Holiday Inquisition Guide

Congratulations! You made it through a holiday at home!  Thanksgiving was the first holiday of the academic year to flex both your stomach muscles, and your communication skills.

Family can be great, and one of the most supportive networks in your life, but it’s really hard to come home and feel like your in an interrogation room with your aunts and uncles as the good and bad cops.

Fear not!  As winter break, and a bevvy of different winter holidays approaches, you can be prepared to nimbly dance around these verbal cross examinations.  Here are a few tips from someone with a a large number of holidays spent in the hot seat.

1. Don’t Panic

It’s so easy to panic when a relative starts asking you about school.  You’ve just returned from a stressful final exam period, had to pack everything to bring home, and you probably don’t even want to think about your major until after New Years, but the relatives are starved for information about what you’ve been up to, and if you’re panicked, they’ll be able to tell.  So take a deep breath, and keep a level head.  No one knows as much about your potential career path than you.  You’ve got this.

2. Talk About Your Successes, Not Your Struggles

Questions from relatives are often open ended, which can be daunting.  It’s hard to know what direction they may want to talk the conversation, and sometimes it seems like they know more than they’re letting on.  The truth is, they don’t.  Use the open endedness of a question to steer the conversation to what you’ve done well.  Talk about the work you enjoyed doing, what extracurricular you’ve gotten involved with, the job opportunities you’ve had.  This is what you’re relatives want to hear about.  They want to know you’re doing well, so don’t sell yourself short, and give them as many positives as you can.

3. Don’t Worry About Not Having Definite Answers

These questions are much harder if you may not be sure what academic or career path you want to take.  What’s important to remember is that you have so many different opportunities.  Uncle So-and-So may not  see it this way, but if you’re positive in front of your family, despite and doubts and existential dread you may actually have, they’ll believe it too.

4. Be Passionate

Not everyone can see the value of every major, and statistically, there’s a good chance that at least one person in your extended family has unsavory thoughts about what you want to do with your life. That’s ok though.  As long as you are passionate, and can walk away from a conversation, debate, or argument, knowing that you’ve made the best decision for your happiness, that’s what truly matters.  If you can convey that passion to the rest of your family, even better.

I wish you all good luck during this upcoming holiday season.  Be confident, rest up, and may you make it through the second Spanish Inquisition.