Professor Offers Advice for Finishing Strong

Margaret Gregory, Staff Writer

With the spring semester coming to a close, students’ minds are focused on summer plans, graduation and even potential job prospects. However, before vacation arrives, students must still focus on final projects and exams. But with final assignments also comes the stress of finishing, and finishing strong.

Professor of music Dr. Anne Lewis, offered advice on how students can do their best on their finals, as well as what she would like to see for her students to finish strong.

“My main thing is to be sure you have all your assignments done,” Lewis said. “If you have anything outstanding, talk to your professor about what you need to finish up before jumping into finals. Talk to your professor about anything that is bogging you down and how to simplify it.”

Unfortunately, many students do not take the time or feel comfortable enough to go to their professors for help. Lewis wants others to know that the professors are here for them.

“The beautiful thing about Averett is that we are small enough that we get to know each other, and we care about each other,” Lewis said. “Students are not just numbers who fill up a class. I want to know about your life and what’s going on because that affects you as a student.”

Some professors find that students either do not read their given material or procrastinate on assignments. It is encouraged that they strive to do a little bit every day rather than putting it off until the last minute.

“If you do just a little bit of something every day, you will make progress,” Lewis said. “When I had finals as an undergrad and graduate student, I was in concert season. We were on tours… if I wasn’t prepared before, then I pulled all-nighters. During my dissertation I got to work on it between 11pm and 2am.

After teaching all day, it was not fun, but I survived. But I’ve been there, done that and I understood that you must take a little bit everyday… if I get this much done then, I’ve accomplished something and I can do more the next day.”

The study habits that Lewis had as a student are the habits she still uses daily in her teaching life.

“When you teach a class, you learn more about what you are studying…” Lewis said. “Whenever I have an assignment or I’m reading something from a textbook, I read it. And that’s one thing that I don’t see students do – taking advantage of the material that the professor is giving you.”

Lewis also cited the Cornell Note-Taking System as a strategy she uses daily while teaching. This short-hand note taking system focuses on organization and review by splitting the paper into specific sections of importance. These sections include two columns reserved for notes and important keywords and one row across the bottom of the page for the summary of said notes.

“I write in the margins,” Lewis said. “I write ‘here is what this paragraph is about’ in one or two words. So, when I go back to prepare my study, I know that that was the information that I was looking for. And then I go back and write in my own words.”

Another way to finish strong is to focus on building your resume and connections. All students are encouraged to do this by setting up an account with Handshake. Handshake is a networking and job connection website that has necessary connections for internships and sending resumes. Students who are graduating, getting a summer internship, or entering graduate school are encouraged to update their Handshake accounts daily.

In addition to professors, students are also encouraged to go to the alumni office to build connections with alums and ask for advice on their chosen major and career paths.

“Students are welcome to walk into the alumni office,” Lewis said. “They would love for students to come and meet with them because you are the next alumni.”

It is also recommended that students remove or get away from as many distractions or stressors as they can. Sometimes it is best to take a quick break, get some exercise, go for a walk, or even visit friends for a short time.

“Allow yourself time to be with friends… but recognize that I can give you this much time and then I have to go back and do my next thing,” Lewis said. “Planning your time like saying ‘I’m going to take a walk at 4 o’clock’ because that clears your mind and allows the mind to work out all the things that you are struggling with…Do something that is not related to your stress and your brain is going to figure it out.”

All of Averett’s professors wish students the very best on their final projects and exams.

“Don’t give up, be persistent and that little bit every day helps….” Lewis said. “Having that grit and that growth mindset helps you to realize that you are not alone.”

If you would like to learn more about ways students can make connections and build their resume go to And if you would like to connect with other Averett alums, contact the alumni office at (434) 791-7252.