The Five Stages of Finals
Dear Inside ‘Dores readers,
I apologize for not blogging during these past few weeks. I had 3 finals and a paper due this week, but the good news is that I’m done with all of them and I promise to regularly blog now :D
My fellow freshmen and I are used to, or more accurately, experts in taking tests. The dreaded acronyms- APs, SATs, and ACTs have been a part of our lives from the beginning of high school. We’re masters of study guides, practice tests, flash cards and Sparknotes. We did suffer from the occasional bout of senioritis during our senior year, but we overcame integral calculus and thermodynamics ,and emerged victorious, all set to enter the new, exciting and wonderful world of college.
College has been a remarkable journey for me so far. I have thoroughly enjoyed these five months, with one exception: finals week.
Finals week is the most dreaded time for a college student, even for the straight A overachiever. Just because you could study for a high school final a few days before the test does NOT mean that you can do so for college finals.
You may have heard about the different stages of grief. Here are my stages for Finals week.
Stage 1- Realization.
You have barely finished with your midterm and your much awaited Thanksgiving break is around the corner. You need a break from weekly quizzes, biweekly midterms and papers, and the dreaded 8 a.m. calculus classes. But time can be deceptive. Very deceptive. You’re binge watching Gilmore Girls ( a shout-out to Heather) and your conscience tells you to look at the syllabus and prepare a study timetable for finals. You reassure yourself-I have got two weeks for finals. I need this break!
10 episodes later, you motivate yourself to plan ahead and not procrastinate. You check your syllabus on OAK, see that all your finals are cumulative (spotting a unicorn is more common than taking a non-cumulative final) and they are all within two days of each other. Don’t panic, you’ve got this- I tell myself unconvincingly.
Stage 2- Planning.
Ok, I should have studied more during my Thanksgiving break. But amidst all that delicious food and festive spirit, motivating yourself to study is not as easy as you think it is. Anyway, I bring myself to make a study timetable, a study tool I have used throughout my life.
3 chapters in Math, 7 in Spanish, 16 in Econ, and an 8 page paper. That’s probably the easiest workload I will ever have at Vandy. Hmmmm…I can handle this. So I diligently plan my last two weeks at Vandy, full of, for the lack of a better word, cramming a semester’s worth of knowledge in 15 intense days.
Stage 3- Execution.
The last two weeks were not that hard in terms of lectures. We had already covered the majority of the coursework before Thanksgiving break. But after 3 pm, when my last class ended, I took a power nap and then stuck to my timetable, every inch of my desk covered with papers and textbooks. Not the happiest of times……
Studying with my friends helped break the monotony of differentiation, Spanish preterite verbs,fiscal policy and Henrik Ibsen. A refreshing walk in the Peabody Esplanade also helped.
Stage 4- Finals.
Before I knew it, the finals week arrived. My first final (calculus) was on Saturday night. We did get a Reading Day on Friday and thankfully, my calculus final was at 7pm so I got an additional day to study. After days of practice and review sessions, I felt confident and ready to take my first ever college final. The calculus final was a bit harder than my midterms, but it covered concepts that we had reviewed multiple times in lectures. Thank you Professor Corson!
The next final was Spanish on Monday. The study guide Professor Forehand has posted a week before was immensely helpful. My Spanish exam went smoothly , and most students finished a hour earlier. So far so good.
My first year writing seminar paper was due on Tuesday. I had written more than half of it over Thanksgiving break ( Unfortunately, I am not a productive procrastinator), so I spent the last two weeks writing its conclusion and editing it. On Monday night, I finished my citations and printed the essay, all ready for submission on Tuesday.
My last final was today, on Wednesday. I love Econ and I wish to major in it, but this was a course I had to thoroughly prepare for, because we had 16 chapters to cover, and the final is worth 25% of the overall grade. I read the chapters, went through sample tests and my class notes, and stepped into Wilson to take my last final of the semester.
This final was (once again) harder than our previous midterms, but it did cover 75% more material than a single midterm. 32 multiple-choice and 4 essay questions later, I handed in my paper to Professor Buckles (who is teaching my Econ 101 class next semester), and I was FINALLY done with my finals!
Stage 5- Euphoria.
I have officially finished my first semester at Vanderbilt! I am traveling to India this week and I am all set to meet my parents, friends and most importantly ,my golden retriever after five long months.
Finals may not be the most pleasant experience a college student goes through, but there are so many resources on campus that help you reduce stress and feel more confident about exams-your professors and their office hours ( in my opinion, the best resource),review sessions,study groups with friends, tutoring services, the Writing Studio and the Psychological and Counseling Center (PCC).
So I have still 7 more Finals weeks to survive. But for now, I’m done.
According to a very wise person,
Don’t cry because it happened, smile because it’s over.