June 30, 2009

Contemplations on Finals Week: Modest Proposals (Published in the Muskett, Fall 2002)

• You find yourself awake at six in the morning, trying to finally grasp the complexities of thermodynamics, or the deeper meaning of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I know the boat you are in. Test at any time in the semester can be a hard thing to deal with, but finals carry an additional weight. Perhaps you have a professor who weighs the final at forty percent of your grade, or maybe you have an eight-thirty final in a class that meets normally at four in the afternoon. The stresses of finals week is enough to crush even the hardiest soul.

• To combat the stress of an overwhelming collection of facts that you must squeeze into your taxed brain, I have a few suggestions. For starters, I have found that self-medication is an excellent choice. No matter what poison you choose, this is a superb route to take. I am not offering this suggestion as a way to improve your test scores, but I can guarantee that if you take enough of your medicine, you simply will not care about said test scores.

• If the prior suggestion leaves a bad taste in your mouth, I am fully ready with more ideas. I have witnessed several individuals who have gained confidence in conversing with invisible beings. I am not in the position of endorsing any particular being, but I am close with the Christian God. When compared to possibility of eternal damnation or the pursuit of nirvana, a simple two-hour test looses its significance. The prospect of failure on a test is a far lesser demon than the prospect of failure at life.
Finding religion puts the minor triviality of finals into perspective.

• Another idea about finals stress is that you don’t need to worry about them. You know the weird punk rock girl in your class? The one who wore her Doc Martins with shorts way back in August? I have it on good knowledge that while you were procrastinating, and enjoying time with your friends, she was studying and keeping up on her homework. If you can, sit as close to her as possible. She may have the veneer of rebellion, but she knows Nietzsche, Kant, and Jung as well as their closest friends ever did. The bonus of the situation is that her handwriting is large and flowery, a hand that is easily read from five feet away. Cheat your way through finals week, and buy Christmas gifts instead of studying. Your friends will love you for it, and your parents will laude you for the excellent marks. The only downside is that you have to be conscious of the professors. They tend to frown on this activity.
• I wish you all a happy finals week, and may you all find success in your endeavors. To graduating seniors, good luck in your respective fields. To those who follow my advice and fail, I am truly sorry. To those who followed the advice and succeeded, I expect flowers. I particularly like daisies and lilies.