Oh, the final exams outside are frightful

When you ask any student in general, and a college student in particular, “So, how do you feel about finals?” they will probably either look at you as if you’d just pulled a gun on them or insulted their mother. Finals are not a happy time.

Now that I’m approaching one of my final finals stretches, I’m beginning to take a more intense look at this time of the year and realize how much meaning is rolled into these few short weeks.

Some teachers assign papers. Some have final exams. Some have both. And a presentation to boot. The variability in the timing of work is sometimes quite drastic. I’ve had semesters where I’m going insane trying to get papers completed and prepare for exams right before moving out. Then again, I’ve been in the position where all of my workload is done before the last week of school and I’ve been able to kick back and watch movies while all of my friends are worrying their heads off.

While the due dates of work assigned during finals usually vary, the quantity of work does not. It’s always a lot. This is the time of year where there can be no unfinished business and teachers expect the best work turned in. Task after task piles up and I’ve sometimes been left doing mental circles in my head as I go to sleep, making sure everything I set out to do during the day was finished.

But there’s a ying to the yang. As Monty Python said, “Always look on the bright side of life.” It’s true (as least in my experience) that the payoffs in life are always so much better after you’ve gone through hardships. Finals week proves the ultimate example. After working your behind off for several weeks, winter break is like the emergence onto a placid lake after riding the rapids.

For college students, winter break is a time like no other in life. It’s a time in the ether of one’s academic career when a chapter has been completely closed and another has yet to be opened. As a senior, I’ve realized that I probably won’t be having any more winter breaks in quite some time. The prospect causes more than a little despair.

Finals week represents life in a nutshell. The good parts have to come with the bad. In this case, it’s extreme pressure paired with extreme relief. And I’m willing to bet that it’s one of the few experiences in life like this that comes like clockwork, twice a year. Even my advisor, who has experience working on a daily paper, says that end-of-semester work trumps any in the working world. Even though I won’t be having any more long breaks after I graduate, I won’t have to go through finals either. And that’s the true reason for the season. In any case, happy holidays to all. I’m looking forward to enjoying them myself, as soon as I finish these exams.

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