Coursework at Christmas: How to Avoid Becoming the Grinch

For the first day of Christmas my tutor gave to me…deadlines. Lots of deadlines. When you just want to take part in the Christmas cheer, the last thing you need is coursework dampening your spirits. There’s no need to become the Grinch just yet though, there are ways to minimise the stress and maximise the Christmas cheer.

1. Make use of university resources while you’re there

Your university will have plenty of great resources at your disposal, you just have to remember to use them. It not only means that you have to start your planning before the last minute, which is a good idea all round, but it also means that you won’t be stuck at home and scrambling to find what you need with limited resources. While there will be online resources, in some cases the book you need will only have a physical copy. You will want to check this out before you leave and avoid the regret of wishing you could just have a peek inside to find out that all important detail for your essay. Be aware that you may need to renew the books online over the break. Library fines on top of deadlines is not something you want. Not only is there the library, but your tutors will have open office hours. These are invaluable and are definitely something you should take advantage of. After all, they are the qualified ones here and will be able to guide you on where to start looking to research your paper.

2. Give your tutor time to respond and don’t obsess while waiting for a reply

Just like you, your tutors will want to spend their Christmas having fun with family and friends so they may not always be quick to reply. The response would unlikely to be immediate during the semester, so you shouldn’t expect any different now. Make sure that if you have an urgent question you send it as soon as possible, and allow time for your tutor to respond in time for you to make the necessary adjustments. However, you shouldn’t waste time obsessing over the reply either. If you can’t progress without a reply, you simply can’t progress. So you have to wait. Set up notifications on your phone so that you’ll know when you get an answer, but in the meantime take this as an opportunity to spend time with your family. If you’ve planned well enough then you should be fine to take an evening off and watch that Christmas movie that you watch every year.

3. Other people are in the same situation as you

Other people on your course will be going through the same thing, so rest assured you’re not the only one with deadline dread. In this case, you can ask others for advice and clarity on points that you’re not sure of. They’re likely to respond faster than your tutor, and might even be able to cite specific areas that will be useful in your own research. Not only that but, if they’re kind enough and you offer to do the same in return, they could read over your work to make sure that you’ve not made any glaring errors. Just be sure to return the favour if they ask you something later on.

4. Plan ahead of time

You should always make a plan of when you should work and when you should give yourself a break, it’s good study practice. However, around the holidays this is even more important. This may be the first time you’ve seen your friends and family since leaving for university, so you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with them. With so many different schedules though, it can be tricky. Don’t get discouraged, the time spent with them will be worth it. 

5. Don’t give up your Christmas traditions

Time may be tight, but giving up on years old traditions won’t be worth it. These traditions are probably what you’ve looked forward to the most, and missing out will not help anyone. Whilst finishing your coursework is a priority, so is your well-being. It’s why you take breaks from studying, and these can be included in those breaks. Miss out on that hour of procrastination, not the time spent with your friends and family. 

6. Don’t mix Christmas and coursework

So this heading may seem contradictory to the rest of this article, but some explanation is needed. Don’t tell yourself you will work on Christmas eve and Christmas day; it just won’t happen. When you plan out times to work, be realistic. If you reasonably estimate about how long it will take, then you shouldn’t need to work on these days anyway. Besides, it just wouldn’t work. You would miss out on the Christmas atmosphere and regret it, which would only leave you unmotivated to work later.


With these tips, and a bit of planning, you can finish your coursework without sacrificing your Christmastime. So good luck and happy holidays!

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Moya Clark

English and Creative Writing student at Coventry university, hoping her degree won't leave her destitute and penniless like every writer stereotype going.

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