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Surviving Finals

Though the end of the calendar year brings with it holidays and fun, it also brings what some students deem the worst time of the year: Finals Week. 

With presentations, papers, and group projects, the stress can mount for students during this period. College can already be stressful for a variety of reasons—such as financial needs, work outside of school, and social life issues—and important exams only add to the pressure

The American Addiction Centers conducted a survey in 2019 which found that 88 percent of college students say their school life is stressful, with the biggest factor being exams (89 percent of the vote). 

So, as Hamline approaches Finals Week, what can be done to combat stress? A few current students shared their experiences with stress and what they do to handle it. For Grace Ryan, a sophomore in the Political Science and Global Studies departments, stress comes in waves during Finals Week. 

“I think as someone who is a perfectionist, I get really stressed about my grades and being on top of that,” she said. “Also, I know myself pretty well and know that I can do it. But, if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.”

Ryan believes she is pretty good at handling her stress, however. 

“I think I handle stress ok because I have other things I can put my mind on, so it isn't constant,” she said. “I deal with it by exercising a lot. And sometimes I’ll spend hours on finals and then take an hour off, just turn my brain off.”

Danielle Franke, a sophomore majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, handles her stress similarly, though she often uses the pressure to her advantage.

“I almost feel like stress helps me during finals week,” she said. “The stress and adrenaline helps me get my projects done. It’s only after the week is over that it hits me and I’m tired, sick, stuff like that.” 

The way Franke deals with her stress when it does become too much, however, is something she does not have as much control over.

“I don’t [handle it] very well, honestly!” she laughed. “Otherwise, I would say by talking. Complaining to others, ranting… it’s cathartic. Also, doing something that doesn’t require me to think, like watching a funny movie or going for a walk.” 

Franke’s roommate Emily Kettering, a sophomore who is considering a degree in neuroscience, is at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

“I just tend to shut down,” Kettering joked. “Finals basically become the only thing I do because it is the one thing that I truly have to do. I want to do better with my next Finals Week when it comes to my stress, like take a nap when I need it, give myself a break, stuff like that.” 

All three do agree that stress levels definitely rise during Finals Week.

“I believe that is a universal truth for college students.” Kettering laughed. 

They also advocated for using whatever resources are available and work for you. For example, Franke has used the Writing Center, and Kettering the tutoring program. 

Ryan also often asks her friends for their opinions, and Franke likes to hear how her classmates are handling their projects. 

“It helps that [your classmates] understand what you’re going through with the class, right then and there,” Franke said. 

It’s clear that no matter how you handle your stress, there are ways to make it through finals as long as you persevere. Use what resources you can, get your snacks and friends ready, and get prepared to go into this Finals Week as ready as you’ll ever be.