Coleman: Finals season: difficult but survivable

Kehley Coleman, Staff Columnist

Alright, there’s just no getting around it: this is a stressful time of year.

We’ve officially made it to finals season. I’ve been dreading this period between Thanksgiving and winter break since the semester started, and for good reason. The past few days have been extremely stressful. Between starting to study for my finals and trying not to fall behind on assignments still due over the next few days, I’ve definitely been feeling the finals crunch.

As a first-year student, I have never experienced a college exam season before. While we had exams in high school, they were far less frightening. High school exams also took place after winter break, meaning that there was a more defined break between the end of new course material and the final exam, giving us enough time to devote ourselves to studying for exams.

I’m definitely missing that break before exams right about now. I’m struggling to split my focus between wrapping up my courses and preparing for exams. It’s hard to determine which I should be spending more time studying for—the physics test worth 10 percent of my grade taking place this Friday, or the math exam worth 25 percent of my grade on next Tuesday? Not to mention the two projects due on Friday night or the essay due on Monday.

As of the time I’m writing this, we’re still learning new material in a few of my classes. It’s certainly enough to make me reconsider all the time I spent in high school complaining about how I would still have to take exams once I got back from break.

Not that I would want things to be done that way here, though. I’m very much looking forward to heading into break without the stress of exams yet to come hanging over my head. Besides, the month-long break between semesters in college is significantly longer than the not quite two weeks we got in high school. Certainly it’s enough time that would cause more educational harm than benefit if we did have post-break exams. Let’s be honest, how much studying would we honestly get done with this type of academic calendar?

But still, I do wish that the pace of my classes had slowed down more than it has going into this week to leave me more time for preparing for finals.

That said, overall it has been easier to cope with the stress of this time period than I thought it would be. While it’s true that we’ve been learning new material up until the last moment, there has also been some review time built in to most of my classes this past week or so. It’s been proving less difficult than I had feared to recall material from the beginning of the semester.

And, honestly, when it comes down to it, I’ve realized that I actually have more time for studying than I thought. Now that I’m consciously working to spend more of my time studying or working, I’m realizing just how much time I previously wasted on Netflix or browsing the internet. This is not to advocate that everyone stay off their phones. I like my phone, and I’m not looking to tell anyone what to do. But I would like to point out to everyone I’ve heard complaining about staying up until 4 a.m. to get through schoolwork that they’re probably spending far more time than they’re aware of on their phones. Those minutes spent sending texts or checking feeds throughout the day tend to add up more quickly than we realize.

It is generally possible to balance a reasonable academic workload and a life outside school work without cutting back too much on sleep and self-maintenance, even around finals season, provided one is careful about exactly how they’re spending their spare moments.

So overall, I won’t say I’m not feeling stressed about finals—I very much am. But I’m finding the review process not quite as awful as I expected. I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to finish the semester reasonably intact.

Kehley Coleman is a first-year student planning on (maybe) majoring in chemical engineering. When not in class, she can typically be found reading trashy teen fiction and/or in rehearsal for something or other.