Editorial | Dire semester produces resilient Illini

This year’s finals could not arrive at a more distressing moment. Whether it be the pandemic lingering, colossal Zoom fatigue setting in from one year of online education or the “Mental Health” days having little impact on students’ well-being, this semester’s end could not come any sooner.
Yet, Illini, the end is near. Hope remains over the horizon as the University plans for the increased return of in-person classes and activities. Moreover, vaccines allure to a “new normal” awaiting once the population reaches certain levels of protection.
Nevertheless, finals this semester resemble either a godsend or additional hardship. For some, finals are the concluding obstacle before a relaxing summer. For others, these exams embody the ill fortune of a semester lacking a necessary spring break, further worsening the endured burnout.
No matter one’s anticipation or dread for finals, a consideration for students’ well-being — as well as respect for their continued earnestness — must anticipate students post-finals. Additionally, because burnout prevents diligence, conquering fatigue will become the latest challenge for University students and faculty.
It is this perceived burnout, especially, that has permeated student and faculty life. Although the scattered days off this last semester were designed to alleviate burnout burdening mental health, little was relieved.
Likewise, a semester continuously flowing from January through May has drained students. Without the typical spring break, students profoundly suffered from increased anxiety and struggle with perpetual academic work.
Jared Frank, sophomore in Engineering, comprehended this moment in March when describing to The Daily Illini that a typical spring break is, “a great time to recoup and catch up with things that were left behind earlier and get a breather.”
Yet with a semester excluding this worthwhile break, Frank noted, “it definitely is not the same, however, since you still have classes or midterms the next day. It feels more like catching up with work, instead of taking a break from work.”
This incessant “catching up” leads to a finals season where students are presently devoid of spontaneous impulse. Illini are due for proper credit, nonetheless, for reaching this closing mark.
A pandemic throws all of society into a whirlwind. Education — as exhibited from transitions into Zoom and social isolation — is one of the fields most afflicted by COVID-19. Students, faculty and administration alike weathered this storm for multiple semesters now and, in the process, adapted to foreign circumstances — a valiant adaptation worthy of recognition.
Despite irritating adjustments, Illini have persevered and managed to balance life amidst momentous political change, a debilitating pandemic and frequent periods of social isolation. Above all else, this effort deserves commendation.
Consequently, it is in these occasions where character is tested and formulated. Besides the few who elected to ignore life’s recent modifications, Illini united in health and prosperity these last semesters. Assuredly, praise will not soothe the mental health woes inflicting students and faculty, but an acknowledgment for Illini’s is belated.
As this finals season aims to be the last before a “new normal” dawns, Illini must pause and reflect on their vigor and personal strides.
A life reminiscent of pre-COVID-19 is distant, yet the worst lies behind. Therefore, Illini should strengthen their resolve as they prepare for what remains: a finish line filled with finals. Regardless of the overwhelming nature of finals, these persisting exams, projects or papers position themselves between a triumphant semester’s end versus a capitulation to burnout.
It is an accomplishment to reach finals this semester. With COVID-19 heavily affecting physical and mental health, it is a remarkable achievement for students to learn amid the pandemic. Still, finals await. As such, students must recognize that over this exam-crowded horizon, better days persist.
This finals season, be mindful of one’s mental health and righteous procurement. Although many finals stand for subsequent semesters, let this one exist as exceptional for its triumphs and tribulations. Crucially, Illini, prevail over the pain and secure a resounding semester.