Finals Advice from A Graduating Senior

You’re tired, stressed, and you’re surrounded by your notes, papers, laptop, empty Starbucks cups, and the last bits of your sanity. It’s the weeks leading up to finals, when it feels like professors intentionally assigned all of the papers so you have one due every day or the same day. I’ve been doing this for the past four years at Cal Lu and while they’ve been some of the most stressful times, with the right people they were some of the funniest. Here’s how I’ve handled finals week for the past four years:

Try to create a study schedule

You should know when all of your finals are by now, so plan ahead. Don’t just do it according to when each class is, but consider which final is the hardest. If you know most of the content, don’t spend too much time on it because you won’t really get anywhere. Focus on the classes where you have a borderline grade or where you know you don’t understand the content as well. If you have a paper due for that class instead of a final, work on that in between studying.

Fran, on the left, was studying for her French finals and Julie, on the right, was trying to help her study. The only "word" Julie knows in French is croissant.

Be selective about what you do during your study breaks

Don’t watch Netflix. You’ll get caught up in the movie or show you’re watching. Instead do something essential or productive during your study breaks; this way you aren’t breaking your productivity mindset but you aren’t stretching yourself mentally. Leave campus and go get a quick lunch. Bring friends while you’re at it, so this way you can have some fun too. Work on a paper that you have due, as long as you have most of the content done. Don’t go on your phone because you’ll probably get lost in whatever social media platform you’re on. If you want a longer break and you have a kitchen, try baking brownies or cookies. This way you can study while they bake and take another short break to eat them!

Know your limits

Is your head starting to hurt? How many cups of coffee did you have? If your head is screaming at you or if you’re on your 3rd Venti in 3 hours, then it’s time to stop. Don’t feel like you have to work 24/7 up until the end of finals. Take a real break, and if you schedule your time right you can spend a whole day relaxing. Know your limits and what your body is telling you. Going slightly crazy because you’re so stressed and you feel like your brain is about to explode is understandable and it happens a lot. I’ve been there at least once every finals season. But when I do reach that point, I walk away from my work.    

This was during the finals week of my Fall semester sophomore year, my friends and I were leaving to get In-n-Out and they thought this was the funniest thing. 

Eat well and sleep well

I have an issue with this as well. I have a tendency to stay up until I’m completely done with all of my work. But I always try to get some sleep throughout the day just to make sure I’m getting some rest. I can function and work without any sleep, but I know that it adds up. So if you do have to pull an all nighter for a paper, make sure you take a nap during the day. Eating well is also really important during this time of the semester because your body and mind are constantly running a mile a minute. If you’re running on 0 hours of sleep and no food, you’re going to burn out and caffeine will only make it worse.

Surround yourself with people that will make you laugh

While studying is important and being able to focus is the best way to study, you have to be with people who can ease the tension and stress you feel. Whether it’s your roommates, friends, or people from class who can commiserate with you- be as happy as you can be while you study. I’ve been lucky enough to have some of the best people with me throughout these past four years and we’ve suffered together. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

This is during the Fall semester finals week last year. I was with my roommates, who also happens to be one of my best friends, in a study room. She was singing "All I Want for Christmas is You" to cheer us up from studying.

As I approach the last few weeks of my last semester, I’m reminded of all the fun times I’ve had at some of the worst times of the school year. Everyone in these pictures and videos have been a part of making finals week not as bad. I hope you all have people like this in your life and I wish you the very best in these upcoming weeks.