It's the day before Thanksgiving. As the day progresses, your college campus will increasingly take on the look and feel of a ghost town-it may already be one if you're one of those lucky students whose school didn't even hold classes today.
However, gorging themselves on home cooking is not the only thing college students are anticipating this weekend. Right on the heels of Thanksgiving comes finals week for most college students in the country. So while you're packing for the weekend with your family and rushing to join the mass exodus from the dorm, you may find yourself throwing in some homework along with the laundry you plan to do at home and you may find yourself hurrying to finish a paper before you run out the door.
Balancing school and the rest of your life is hard enough, and it becomes even harder when holidays with the folks are involved. Here's this four-day stretch of no classes, and unless you're stuck working retail or food service, no work, and a sense that you can do anything you want with it. It can be tempting to put off your homework in the preceding days, telling yourself that you've got all weekend to get caught up-and even ahead-on what's been assigned before finals are due. Equally tempting, however, is the impulse to take the weekend as a vacation you've earned, focusing on football and catching up with friends and family, and spending most of the weekend in a food coma.
So how do you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend and get your homework done?
Know your environment.
When I started college, I didn't yet have a laptop and the family computer was in the living room, right next to where my relatives would congregate for Thanksgiving. We still had dial-up and ancient word-processing software that effectively made completing a paper at home impossible. Yet I'd still schedule not only writing but research for Thanksgiving weekend. If your home environment is difficult to work in, don't plan on working at home. If there are things you absolutely need to get done, think of a place you can go to do them, and a time you can make that trip (the coffee shop next to the mall on Black Friday? Not a good work environment, either).
Know your schedule.
Will you spend Thursday at a relative's house hours from home? Does your mom insist on dragging you along for the 4 AM stampede at stores on Friday? Do you have high school friends clamoring for a piece of your time on Saturday or Sunday? If you have other scheduling obligations to contend with, planning to pencil in a 10-page paper or an intensive cramming session might not be a good idea. If your homework needs to be done, and needs to be done now, you may need to see who you can put on hold. An unfortunate part of the college lifestyle is the realization that you may need to disappoint someone to make time to pass your classes. Accept this reality, but be smart about it and don't burn bridges.
So you have all this homework to do and not a lot of time to do it in. What do you do? Look at the due dates for your assignments you'd scheduled for the weekend, as well as your school obligations when you return next week. Is there time to work this stuff in before it's due and still enjoy your holiday weekend? Are there other, less important tasks you can potentially rearrange? I won't advocate neglecting homework or skipping class to spend quality time with friends and family, but I won't be so naïve as to say it doesn't happen. Be smart about your decisions and be aware of their long-range impact. If the class you plan to skip on Tuesday to write your paper is one more than you're allowed to skip without dropping a letter grade or failing the class, then it might be wiser to attend it, and get your paper done this weekend--even if it means pulling an all-nighter or two.
Finally, if you're nervous about all the work you have to do, take some time today and make a plan, possibly while you're stuck in a car, a train, or the airport. Having a plan of action can keep you from freaking out about your homework while you should be enjoying a meal with your family and a well-deserved break from school.