I have finished the semester. I actually finished my semester ten days ago, but I've been ridiculously busy doing a lot of nothing since then.
But I thought I would blog about what I've learned over the course of this semester, since I've learned a lot. Maybe some of them will help you if you ever have a 17-credit semester while maintaining a part-time job.
First: Staying up super late becomes a habit very quickly.
I had thought that when I didn't have to stay up super late every night to do homework, I would go to bed at 9:30 or 10 every night, and be responsible, and get super rested, etc. Nope. Actually, I've been staying up about as late as I used to, just sleeping in longer in the mornings. It's strange if I'm in bed before 11, and not altogether unusual for it to be after midnight before I turn out the lights. All this to say, maintaining healthy sleeping habits as much as possible is a good idea, because it becomes a very difficult habit to break, and one which I'm sure will end up costing me next semester, when I can't sleep til 10 or 11 in the morning every day.
Second: Make lists.
Sometimes lists can stress people out, but lists are a good way to make sure you don't forget anything. If you have a list down of everything you need to do (even little things like emailing your forensics coach) is a good idea. Even better? Write down how much time each thing will take. It's easy to become overwhelmed when there are twenty things on your list, but when ten of those things take two minutes each, it's easier to handle.
Third: Pick TV shows and movies you've already seen.
Now this applies to only certain people. It was my favorite part of this semester, actually. I watched a lot of TV and movies this semester. I either watched them when I was upstairs with my family, with my laptop in front of me, or let it play background on my laptop while I wrote papers. If you are like me, and can't work with complete silence, then play things in the background! Don't listen to scientists with their crap about multi-tasking! Multi-task if it helps you think. Chances are, you'll stop paying attention to your movie or music, allowing you to focus on your paper, but the very existence of the background sound will help keep your brain quiet. Watching things you've already seen helps you focus better, because you already know what happens. Also, it can help if you watch certain things while you do certain subjects, like for studying, because you'll relate the two. As an example, I did really well during my economics class because I binge-watched Veronica Mars while I did my homework, so I permanently associated the two, helping me remember better.
Fourth: Plan at least one day a month on which to go do something fun.
Take the day off of work, ignore your homework, and go to lunch, go to a movie, hang out with friends. Get out of the house, and let yourself breathe for a little while. I only planned one of these, and I really should have done more. But I loved that day, because it felt so good to just let yourself be irresponsible for once, and not let yourself feel guilty about it. Bonus points if you make a rule with your friends to not talk about school.
Fifth: Listen to your friends and family.
Half of them have really good advice. The other half are in it with you. Listen to their advice. If they say you're making a mountain out of a molehill, you probably are (list-making helps with that). If they say you need a break, take a break. The best advice they'll give you is to sleep--that one is the one you need to listen to most of all, because sleep deprivation isn't good for anyone. The people who are in it with you are probably more likely to be okay with listening to the list of all the things you have to do, and they might be in the same situation you are. They have probably also figured out tricks for dealing with their own craziness. If nothing else, you can threaten each other if you don't finish your homework.
Sixth (and finally): Go to people who know.
We all know one person who is awesome. We like to think of them as perfect human beings. They're the ones who took eight classes, had a job, and competed in four different sports, all at once. And somehow didn't lose their minds. Ask their advice. That was the best thing I did this entire semester. I asked my friend Maddi (love you friend), and she had some really good advice which really helped me (hint: TV shows and list-making with time estimates--sound familiar?). If nothing else, they can encourage you that the world will not end, and you will feel SO GOOD when the semester is over.
So this semester is finally over, and I have maintained my weighted 4.0 GPA, and am happily looking forward to my 13-credit semester (I'm taking French 2, Geology, Jazz Dance, and Ethics--dare I say, best semester ever?) and spending lots of time on forensics. I made it through this semester, and ultimately the greatest thing I learned is not to doubt God. My sanity is intact because of Him, and His faithfulness. So I'd say, if you ever feel overwhelmed, don't discount the awesome ability of God to get you through whatever you're going through. Praise the Lord it's all over!!!
BTW, I got my first acceptance letter!