Congratulations, you have successfully completed a semester! I am so proud of you.
It must be tough to go through all those assignments, lectures, and exams. Looking back, this semester seems longer than usual to me, and I felt like I have completed way more things than I could ever imagine. I am sure that you may experience the same sense of fulfillment.
I know it’s quite tempting to just throw away all your books, leave everything academic-related behind and just enjoy your summer. I know this is the moment that you have longed for all this time.
But have you considered taking some time to ponder upon everything happened this semester?
In this article, I will guide you to think about a few aspects of your life during your last semester, and we will work on to see what and how we can improve.
This is also the first post of our summer series, and we will go ahead and explore things we can do during the break to improve yourself, enrich our lives, and get ready for the next academic year.
- Why you should do an end of semester reflection
- Academic reflection
- Career and Opportunities (other commitments)
- Time management, health, and lifestyle
- Personal Improvement
- Things you can do during the semester break
- Free end of semester reflection Evernote template
This tutorial also comes with a free Evernote template to help you do an end of semester reflection. It consists of guiding questions in the various aspects described below. You can download the templates by clicking here.
Why You Should Do an End of Semester Reflection
The beginning of summer means the end of a semester. While it feels awesome to leave everything behind and just enjoy the summer, it’s probably worthwhile to take a bit of time and think about your past semester.
This is to make sure that you learn the lessons in the last semester, remember them, and apply the things you have learned the in the future.
This reflection will also allow you to ponder upon what works for you and what not, which may then help you to find out what you may like to work on more.
If you hope to improve your academic performance in the next semester and year, evaluating your academic performance is fundamentally helpful. It allows you to better understand your ability, and help you figure out what tactics work for you and what don’t.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when doing the evaluation.
What were your grades?
Grades are the most direct reflection of your academic performance. It may not reflect your intelligence, but it shows statistically how well you did in each subject.
When you look at your grades, don’t just make an assumption that you did well or poorly. Instead, ponder upon the following questions.
- Do my grades fall out of your expectation? This can tell you about how well you estimate your own result – whether you tend to overestimate or underestimate yourself. It is a sign of whether you are not (or too) confident with yourself.
- What are the reasons you did poorly/well? Is it because you didn’t study three important chapters before the exam? Or is it because you can’t seem to apply what you have learned? Understanding the reason is crucial to making improvements the next time since you can work on your core problems.
- Do your study strategies this semester work? Your grades also show whether you are able to manage your time well, and use the right strategies in studying. If you get a good grade in a course, then it probably means that the study strategies you used for studying that course work for you.
- Are you good at this subject? In college, you often get the opportunities to pick the courses you would like to take. Understanding which subjects you are more interested in and good at is a great indicator and direction for choosing your future courses.
What classes/subjects do you love the most?
Even though you may not necessarily end up with a career that relates to your major, picking the right major would affect your level of motivation in your studies, and your career path. Learning what you are interested in will be crucial in your academic studies, whether it’s for choosing your major in college, picking your internship, or applying for jobs.
- Which subject do you love most? One way to find out your interest in a subject is to take the introductory course of that subject. Having gone through a brief overview of the entire subject, you can then get a first-hand experience with the subject and see if it falls within your expectation.
- How can you better use your skills and abilities? You can also take into consideration the skills and talents you already have. For example, if you have a really good reading and writing skill, you may consider subjects like Journalism, Social Sciences, and Laws.
- How does this area of studies aid your future career? Having learned about the subject, you will have a deeper understanding of how this area of studies can help you with your career path. Do you think what you have learned can help you achieve what you want to do in the future. Is it worth investing your time in this area of studies?
What classes do you hate?
We all have some classes that we absolutely do not like. No matter how many deadlines and how difficult the exam will be, we just don’t seem to have the motivation to start studying it.
While sometimes we can just pick the other subject, the other times we are probably stuck with it and we can’t steer away from it.
If you do have subjects you do not like, and that you will have to continue studying it anyway, you will probably have to ask yourself:
- What did you not like about this subject? Is this something that can be changed?
- How can you change your attitude? More often than not, once you hate a subject, your attitude to that subject will cause you to avoid it as much as possible.
- How can you strengthen your ability in this subject? If you hate math, for example, you can try to improve by spending the holiday to start working on the basic problems and slowly build a stronger foundation.
Reflecting on these questions can help you find out what exactly you not like about the subject, and how your attitude can change in order to positively face these subjects and hopefully enjoy them in the next semester.
Do your study strategies work?
To make sure you can improve next semester, understanding what works for you is the key. Everybody is different, and everybody studies in a unique way. Evaluating your learning strategies can help you use the right tactics for you in the next semester.
- Learning Style: did you use an auditory style of learning or a visual style? Does this learning style work for you? (If you would like to know what type of learning you are, here are some tests for you.)
- Planning: have you used your revision time well? Does your study plan work for you this time? How could you improve your study plan and better use your time?
- Productivity: did you procrastinate a lot in this semester? Were you able to meet your deadlines? How can you better adjust your work system?
Career and Opportunities
If you are in college, you may perhaps also take your free time to participate in other opportunities that are going to help you with your career, or that may widen your horizon.
- What commitments did you engage in? Have you participated in any term-time internship, campus activities, clubs, and societies?
- Did you enjoy those commitments? Did you like participating in those commitments? What are the things that you liked most about it?
- What have you learned from these activities? What did you learn about yourself? Did you gain any knowledge? Have you refined your skills or obtained some new skills because of the commitments?
- What kind of opportunities would you like to experiment with next time? Do you want to explore the same career field? Or would you like to try something else?
Time Management, Health, and Lifestyle
Studying is definitely not the only aspect of an academic semester. Managing your time well and balance between school, work and rest is what all students should achieve.
How is your physically and mentally health?
While studying is one of the top priorities for all students, being healthy should always come first. Unhealthy habits like pulling all-nighters, snacking on unhealthy food all the time, skipping meals are detrimental to your physical health in the long-run. If you find it difficult to stay eating healthy in college, here are 7 Great Cheap Healthy Meals On A Budget.
In addition, taking care of your mental health is crucial. Think about whether you have taken well of your mental health in the past semester, and how well you have managed your stress in the past semester.
Evaluating your stress level and health can help you better devise strategies to help you cope with your stress.
How did you manage your time?
One main source of stress for students is that they fail to manage their time well. Once we procrastinate, we will push everything off until the few days before the deadline. As we reach the deadlines, we will feel this immense stress and anxiety.
Do you have this same problem? Is there a way to better manage your time?
If you were not able to manage your time well, you should then think about what time management tactics could help you. Devising a good study plan, adopting a regular study routine system, and using the Pomodoro technique can help you better use your time and overcome procrastination.
If you would like to enhance your productivity, we’ve also got a Productivity Workbook for Students to help you increase your productivity.
How did you feel about your social life?
Have you met any new friends in this semester? Are you able to keep connecting with your old friends? Did you engage in any social activities?
Having a good social life can not only help you to be in a better mood, it can also reduce the level of stress you experience due to your academic studies. It is also proved to have the benefits of reducing the risk of depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Having friends in school also means that you can form study groups and study together, which can make studying less stressful and more intriguing.
If you find it difficult to make friends and communicate with others, this Socializing Sceptic’s Guide to Making Friends at College will give you some in-depth insights.
We all say that being in school is the best time to discover ourselves. The past semester may have taught you a lot about yourselves, including your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.
- What are some new things you discovered about yourself?
- What strengths of yours had you discovered in this semester?
- Did you realize any new weaknesses of yours? How can you improve on these weaknesses?
- Am I happy with my life right now?
Things You Can Do During the Semester Break
As we go through the list of questions, you will notice that you will have written quite a lot of areas for improvement you wrote down for yourselves. You can also make a separate list of everything you want to improve.
These areas for improvement would be things you will need to work on in this semester break. In the upcoming posts of the summer series, you will get to see a series of posts on Students Toolbox that provides you with things that you can work on in this summer and will fundamentally help you in the future, including learning how to read effectively, start a blog, journaling and developing routines.
If you would like to get this summer series, you can sign up here to be notified of the new tutorials every week!
This is an Evernote template for end of semester reflection. If you are new to Evernote, you can create an account and download it here.
In this template kit, you will receive 4 links to the following templates:
- Academics: grades, study strategies, subjects I like and dislike
- Commitments: activities participated, reflection
- Health & Lifestyle: physical health, mental health, time management, social life
- Personal Improvement: personal SWOT analysis, overall reflection
You will be able to reflect upon these four aspects for the past semester and take note of your thoughts in the template.
For detailed instructions on how to download and use the templates, please take a look at this page.
I would also love to know your thoughts on those templates, and any recommendations and other guiding questions you would like to add to them. Feel free to leave a review on the product page!
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