Your semester’s going great. Whether you’re a freshman learning the ropes, a senior itching to get it all over with or everything in between, you’ve been through your fair share of all-nighters, debaucherous parties and regrettable hookups and don’t want it to stop anytime soon. Or maybe your semester’s been riddled with pitfalls and setbacks, and you can’t wait for it to be done. Either way, midterms, recesses and registration have come and gone, and the thought of what has happened since September is overwhelming.
Then, one thing reminds you that for all your escapades and experiences, you’re still going to school-and that one thing is finals. Yes, that magical time of the year when the library opens all day and Starbucks makes more money than during the rest of the semester combined. Finals week takes on a life of its own, taking the weary student through four distinct stages.
The first is the awareness stage, which takes place right before and during reading days (well, during semesters that normally have reading days). The student becomes aware of the hard work ahead, plans accordingly, knowing when to take which finals and turn in which papers and makes a commitment to prepare adequately. In the end, however, he will party incessantly throughout reading days and only crack open a textbook three hours before the first final.
The second is the grind stage, which runs through the first half of finals week. By now, the student has had one or two finals and is spending more and more time at the library. He begins calling people that he hasn’t spoken to in months in order to study (and if a study partner is a romantic interest, the student will assume they’ll engage in some physical activity, but he’s fooling himself-there’s no time).
The third is the burnout stage, and is the toughest part of finals. By now, our humble student has taken three or four finals and is starting to feel burned out. He practically lives in the library, and his diet consists entirely of Red Bull and double espressos, which he supports with the $30 he got from selling his chemistry textbook. Visions of textbooks and scantron sheets haunt his dreams. To add insult to injury, while he works all day in the library, all of his friends have finished their finals and are going out to the Grove every night. Eventually, the student stops studying because he just doesn’t care, and tries to fall asleep-all the caffeine in his system will make sure he doesn’t.
The fourth stage is the aftermath and begins as soon as the student packs up his desk at the library and walks toward his last final. The anticipation of it soon being over is all that fuels him, and he sits down and takes the final almost by reflex. Then, after he walks out of the exam room, it dawns on him that he’s finally free, and he breathes a deep sigh of relief before going back home and taking an 18-hour nap. Then, after waking up, he celebrates with the friends who are still in town and a couple of days later, goes home for the break-tired, but satisfied.
Half a year later, rinse, lather and repeat. Happy finals.
Jay Rooney can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.