The Finals Malfunction

As a college senior, I’ve experienced many wonderful things. I’ve been to parties, had all-nighters with my friends, participated in Netflix marathons and accidentally slept through one or two classes. Like always though; with the good comes the bad. And in a college setting, there is only one thing that could possibly ruin the haze of awesomeness that comes with Netflixing it up for hours---FINALS.


It’s like a wall of books collapsing on us. We all know it’s coming, but the end of the semester comes blazing into our lives and wreaks havoc on our ability to function. Most students use procrastination as self-defense against the wave of assignments that start popping up out of the wood work. During the last three weeks of school—everything that could possibly be an assignment is suddenly due and sleep becomes a thing of the past.

Direct Quote from one of my best friends, “I’ll go to sleep later. Like around December 11th.” Which if you didn’t know—is only three days away from ASU’s last day of finals (December 14). 

It’s ridiculous how much pressure there is on students to be great—not just good, but great. And the descriptor great can be inclusive of many elements of our student-hood, such as grades, internships, social life, networking, working, etc.  There are so many things that a student has to balance and focus on during the semester that it’s almost impossible to be great at everything. So what ends up happening is this: said student ends up working insanely hard on one thing and everything else sort of falls to the wayside. It’s how students get fired from jobs (if they work off campus) or how a student ends up flailing their way through their exams.

Personally, I become a study-cavewoman and all of my friends judge me for not returning their phone calls. Limiting contact with friends during finals is reasonable and all of my buddies are buried six feet under their own pile of work, but it’s okay—even good for you—to dig yourselves out of your graves and spend some valuable time with each other.

The problem with finals—besides the fact that they’re exams or projects that can Avada Kedavra your GPA—is that they’ve got a reputation that’s made the original problem even worse than it has to be.  Finals are probably one of those trials and tribulations that your parents preached to you about as a kid, but after several weeks of preparation and a week of hell; you’re done.

But so many students get lost in the misery of finals that they never think about the fact that all time passes and that these exams feel like the end of the world now, but they aren’t. Finals anxiety is a huge problem for college students. Immune systems start failing. I find people crying and sleeping in the library. The number of students attending lectures doubles and professors see tons of students sleeping outside of their doors for office hours. 

It’s as though the whole campus’ mindset changes as soon as the word finals comes into play. And students don’t know how to cope with the stress. There are many stress-relieving activities for students: hitting the gym, sprinting back and forth from your classes, eating too much comfort food, sleeping instead of actually doing anything, and complaining to the peanut gallery about how much life sucks. But there are many other ways to deal with anxiety—ways that are far more productive than sitting in your room and crying over the three-page long to do list that you’ve got.

When you’re at the gym, do your reading on the treadmill. Take a gym buddy with you and have them go through your flashcards as you do sit-ups or pushups. I call it flash exercise, because I’m funny like that. This way you can burn off some lingering panic and make the most of your time.

Study right up until you go to sleep and then get a full eight hours, because your brain works better when you’re not about to keel over in your chair. You’re also less likely to stab someone with a mechanical pencil when they do something obnoxious in the library. It’s been proven that if you sleep on the material you’ve studied, you’ll remember it better.

Complaining is a wonderful activity—if it’s done in reasonable increments. I know that I’m a pretty easy going gal, but when I hear your life problems every time I see your face; I’m not happy. Take five minutes of the day and make it your “FML Five”. You can say what you want or do what you want—rant, rave, and throw things. You can rant on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.

Some people don’t want their anger to be connected to them in an online setting, which is why there are anonymous apps like Whisper available. It works kind of like Tumblr memes, but you can put your own thoughts into the Whisper creator and make a post of it. It’s really cool and the majority of them are hilarious. It’s nice to have a place to unleash your thoughts without being afraid that someone’s going to comment on it and judge you (or at least not anyone you know personally).

But once it’s over, that’s it. You sit your butt down with your books and get to work.

Finals anxiety stems from an overwhelming workload and seemingly too short hours. Finding ways to maximize your time, minimize your work, and relieve your stress are key to surviving the next couple of weeks. Use your resources. Take a deep breath. Focus your attention and have faith in your own ability to do something incredible. Finals will come and go, but learning how to cope with stress is a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

For some, they have eight semesters of finals to get through, but for me—it’s senior year! Which means that all of my stress about tests and GPAs has transformed into terror about big kid jobs and graduate schools, but after suffering through six semesters of hellish finals—I know how to deal with that stress and make my time useful.

Good luck!


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