Apologies for raining on your study day parade

By Carlye Wisel

You really shouldn’t be reading this. And, well, I probably shouldn’t be writing it. Our noses are supposed to be tucked deeply into freshly cracked open textbooks. Your eyes should be burning from the reflection of a blank page with a blinking cursor in a Microsoft Word document, just like mine are. And our brains, those poor cranium-fillers, should be so stuffed with knowledge that they’re unable to process anything without putting it into mathematical, anthropological or historical terms.

The post-Thanksgiving break misery of returning to a bleak calendar and weather to match left everyone bummed, but now that finals season is here, it’s like the bitter cold has completely frozen us over, making our study extravaganza that much more frustratingly depressing.

A tease of a relaxing, comfortable week at home followed by three of intensive no-holds-barred study sessions has left me, on behalf of all of us, with only one thing to say: this sucks.

I’d like to act as though I understand why we have finals, but frankly, I don’t. If the goal is to test how much we’ve learned over the course of the semester, a mid-November pop quiz would be more efficient. The grades would be mediocre, tons of people would fail and only the most attentive, responsible few would take the opportunity to gracefully show how much they know off the top of their head. And you know what? It would show exactly what we’ve learned over the course of the semester – not much, considering we cover the most material during crunch time.

While that sentiment typically only applies to gen ed-style classes (you know, the snooze-tastic lecture halls filled with 100+ students whose professor doesn’t even know their first name), it can be applied elsewhere.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Even in the small, major-concentrated classes, it rings true. In this case, it would be better to force the class to spend eight extra hours with the professor having a comprehensive review that focuses on the most confusing aspects of the course content…. just for the purpose of knowing it, instead of knowing it for regurgitation.

Classes can be interesting and incredibly informative, especially if they pertain to a passion or future career of yours, which is supposed to be the reason why we’re here. But all too often, a student’s main effort is spent trying to learn what the teacher is testing on and not what they may need to tap back into upon graduation. In many cases, if we have to teach ourselves all of the material in the end, what’s the point? Are finals just an amalgamated test to see how much academic will, self-control, caffeine consumption ability and all-around GPA anxiety we have?

With this year rounding out my seventh time taking college finals, I’ve begun to think so. Exam time makes us just like American Gladiators. We run up moving walkways, hand bike our way through the air, scale cargo nets and dodge gigantic objects in our way.

Okay, not literally, but we do work ourselves to the bone, doing everything we can to make sure we do our best, all while competing alongside someone else who has probably trained just as hard. We’re like spandex-covered athletes, vying for a way to show our worth, even though the ultimate feat of strength is simply arm wrestling, or, if you’re real serious about it, boxing. In our case, the ultimate test of knowledge is if we retain it. And, in the finals format we use now, we’ll unfortunately never be able to punch someone’s academic lights out.

Carlye Wisel is a senior in news-editorial journalism and will buy you a drink for every final she’s enjoyed taking.