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Finals Week: Freshman vs Senior Year

With Thanksgiving now a thing of the past, there’s only one thing on any college student’s mind: finals. They’re long, daunting, sometimes cumulative, and nobody likes them. But, as someone who’s going through their penultimate finals season,  I can now clearly see the different markings of a freshman taking finals and a senior who just wants it to be done.

Studying

FRESHMAN YEAR: Freshman year, especially the first semester, you actually care about what grades you get on your finals. High school’s still ingrained in your brain, and at least in my high school, the tests and exams could make or break your final grade. So you take advantage of ‘reading day’ by actually reading and studying, even if you’ve been doing so for weeks by that point. Your econ professor offers a study session the Sunday before your exam? You go, no questions, even if it’s at 8 a.m.

SENIOR YEAR: Senior year, it’s almost like you don’t remember if you even have a final. I have one exam this semester, but I couldn’t tell you in what subject—which means I probably won’t even contemplate studying for it until two days before. There are other things on your mind: finding a job, winter break, wondering where in the world you can find that rare book for your dad’s Christmas present. Exams just aren’t really a priority, and if they are, you just want them done.

Sleeping

FRESHMAN YEAR: I remember my dorm room was decorated with Christmas lights and all of my friends were down in the lounge watching “25 Days of Christmas” my freshman year. But I had an 8 a.m. on the first day of exams my very first semester, which means, my very first ‘reading day,’ I went to sleep at 8 p.m. I wish I was joking.

SENIOR YEAR: Going through college, I’ve learned that was a pretty extreme reaction (although I did actually feel quite refreshed when I walked into the classroom that morning), and that it’s the exact opposite for others; they stay up all night studying and walk into the exam with dark circles under their eyes with a Starbucks cup in hand. That’s the sort of the approach I have now: I go to sleep sometime early in morning and roll out of bed without a second thought. So what if I’m a little tired? What else is new?

Procrastination

FRESHMAN YEAR: Distractions are bound to pop up, but I remember being much less receptive to them when I was a freshman. My roommate wanted to watch a show in our room? I politely asked her to watch it in her friend’s room. I’m pretty sure I didn’t watch any of my TV shows until my exams were over.

SENIOR YEAR: Nowadays, all I do is procrastinate; I binge Netflix like nobody’s business. I go out and drink my sorrows away (only on the weekends though, I’m not made of money). I, like many of my compatriots, don’t like to admit that exams are upon us because that would mean the real world – with its jobs, mortgages and taxes – are just a step away.

Actually Taking The Test

FRESHMAN YEAR: A friend of mine had such bad nightmares that she skipped her final exam. So, every day, she would check Testudo to doubleand triple checkthat her exam was still when she thought it was. People bring handfuls of pencils and pens, calculators and cheat sheets to their finals.

SENIOR YEAR: Roll in to the classroom 15 minutes late with Starbucks in one hand. Actually, no, that’s a lie. But it’s definitely along those lines. You sort of word vomit on the page and hope that (a) your professor can read your (b) semi-coherent thoughts and ideas. After all, it’s senior year: grades don’t really matter out in the real world.

There’s one thing to remember though: everyone – freshmen, seniors, and everyone in between – have to suffer through exams. Don’t worry; it gets better. And one day, not too far from now, when you’ve got a work deadline on Christmas Eve, you might even wish for those pesky exams back.

junior journalism major with a lot of love for writing
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