Dealing with the "finals" stretch

By Stephanie Youssef

The long-distance run of the semester began in the frigid and snowy conditions of January. We kept our pace through the icy streets of February, the windy roads of March and the rainy mud trails of April. Now that May is here with its warm spring sunlight settling on campus, the only hurdles left to jump before we cross the finish line ending the semester are final exams.

Where the end of a race is usually met with cheers of support and encouragement to cross the finish line, campus is instead roaring with complaints of stress and anxiety from students feeling the pressure of final exams.

“I have four final exams this semester.”

“Oh yeah, I have five finals.”

“Well, I have two in the same day!”

“I have so many projects and essays to do in addition to my exams!”

In a time that is miserable for the entire campus, students should take finals as an opportunity to grow academically rather than to complain and perpetuate misery.

Our classes are ending with exams, projects and final assignments that have been on the class syllabus since day one, and the final exam schedule came out a long time ago. We are students with a lot of studying to do after reading day and that doesn’t make any of us unique. Everyone on campus is in the same stressful boat and it’s sailing through a long and miserable trip through final exams.

Some may complain because they are having problems dealing with their stress. However, stressed students complaining to other stressed students doesn’t resolve stress, it perpetuates it.

As a more productive way of resolving anxiety issues, there are plenty of campus resources for stress management, such as the Stress Management coordinator at McKinley Health Center meant to help students overwhelmed with finals. The vast majority of the complaints that I have heard are just snarky and annoying whines rather than cries for real help.

Additionally, some students use their complaints to make their finals schedule seem worse than everyone else’s. It’s as though these students get some weird satisfaction in trying to out-compete everyone else with how much work they have to do or how many exams they have.

There is no award for having the worst final exam schedule. There is no level of respect one can earn by belittling everyone else’s struggles with their own. These students need to recognize that finals affect the majority of campus, acknowledge that everyone has work to do, and move on.

The reality is that, by now, almost all of us have been through finals at least once, and the feeling that we have so much to do and so little time is nothing we haven’t experienced to some degree before. As college students, we are preparing for careers that will demand diligence and hard work for the rest of our lives. Thus, as adults preparing for the work requirements of the real world, we need to recognize that incessant complaining is not a healthy way to address the stresses and difficulties that are thrown at us in life.

Difficult assignments and cumulative final exams make us feel frazzled and stressed and, in many respects, that’s a good thing; they take us of our comfort zones and challenge us to grow academically — as does anything worth doing.

Despite the character building that comes with finals, I understand that people aren’t necessarily going to be smiling through every late night study session at Grainger. Even I’ll admit that I get overwhelmed looking at the list of Powerpoints, papers and book chapters that I have to get through for finals. But no matter how much complaining I do, the list doesn’t get any smaller.

Whether you have a really demanding finals schedule or you are having trouble dealing with stress, complaining to your peers perpetuates misery and robs you of the opportunity to mature as a student.

With every minute you spend complaining, you are delaying what needs to get done. Come to terms with the fact that you have multiple exams, acknowledge that studying is the most productive way to prepare, face your challenge as an adult, and get to work.

Stephanie is a junior in LAS.

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