5 Reasons to Stay Sane: A Finals Week Reality Check

Ahh finals week is almost upon us. Can’t you smell the stress?

Colleges and universities across the country start finals this coming week and some (*cough* mine *cough*) even go halfway through December. #bigschoolprobs

I’m sitting here, typing away in my room to the sound of pure silence. Why? Because all residence halls are currently under 24/7 mandatory quiet hours.

People take this stuff seriously.

We huddle over calc books and pour over copies of Hamlet. We try to cram our caffeine-frazzled brains full of equations while simultaneously struggling to whip out an essay that meets a certain word count. We do all this after a measly four hours of sleep. There aren’t many smiles, and chatty Kathy’s (let’s be honest, we’re all this person at one point) basically become social pariahs until the last test has been aced…or bombed. Pints of Ben & Jerry’s will disappear from the convenience store under my building and junk food and sugar will fill the hole stress has created in our diets.

Today, when I wanted to throw my laptop out a window (thanks Windows 10 for the uplifting afternoon…), I had to stop and ask: at what point is this no longer okay? At what point is the stress not worth it?

And then I remembered a couple of things I always seem to forget this time of year. So here’s a bit of a reality check if you need one as much as I do.


1. Your grades aren’t worth your health. Rest up.

Okay, Kay, way to be obvious. (Okay, KAY, get it??) But maybe I’m not being obvious. How many of us college students are sleep deprived? According to this study, 60% of us are.

Whoopdie doo, it’s college, that’s what happens right?

Maybe, but it shouldn’t. Not getting enough sleep is bad for your body. Bad in more ways than just feeling drowsy. Short-term, sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, temper flares, poor judgement calls, decreased memory retainment (something we DON’T want when trying to ace an anatomy exam), lower immune strength, and on and on. According to this study, poor sleep habits make you more likely to underachieve academically and, in the long run, sleep deprivation is even linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other bad stuff. Pulling those all-nighters in order to get all your work done isn’t a habit to get into. It messes your body up in ways you will have to deal with even after you’re done with finals.


2. Your GPA isn’t worth your relationships.

Relationships–of any sort–can’t last if you don’t put anything into them. Not only will a plant not grow if you don’t water it, but it will shrivel up and die. Like a dead, dried up, wrinkly, raisiny little plant thing. Bye bye planty. WATER YOUR PLANTS RELATIONSHIPS.

Yeah, a week isn’t going to kill your friendships, but a semester might. If you’re so concerned about your grades that you don’t have time to spend with friends, something isn’t working. This is enough to be it’s own blog post, so I’m not going to elaborate too much here, but I do have a question for you to think about. When did your score on an exam start holding more value than the people in your life? It might be worth rewinding.

“It’s just a week, they’ll understand.”

Maybe you’re right, but that’s not the point. The point is, people are important. Try not to forget that,  even if it’s only one week.


3. You are here for more than acing tests.

“Lol, no I’m not.”

Yes, you are. College isn’t just about classes. It’s about establishing who you are as a person, exploring your passions, making meaningful relationships, lifting people up, learning how to be a better person.

“But I just need to get through these four years.”

It’s not just about your grades. You’re missing out on so much of your life if the three+ years you’re in college are solely centered around whether or not you are a good student. You have the opportunity to change your life, but more importantly, to impact someone else’s. Don’t miss that chance. Life is about more than test scores.


4. Your GPA doesn’t define you.

You have a 4.0. I’m proud of you! Way to rock it. But if that’s always your primary concern, I have some bad news.

Once you’re in the workforce, no one cares.

Sorry, not sorry, if that was harsh. See, it’s like winning an award in high school and you’re really proud of it until you get to college and realize that everyone else was just as awesome as you were. Are you going to mention your GPA to your coworkers at the water cooler? No. Of course not.

Wanna know a secret? A hiring manager at a pretty big business came in and spoke to a group of students in a class of mine. He said this: “Your GPA stops mattering after you get that first job. If you did well at your last job, I don’t care what your GPA was in college.”

The take away? Don’t sacrifice four years of sanity, friendships, and health for one interview.


5. You are blessed.

You are at a place where you’re allowed to learn, to speak, to voice opinions, to make yourself look like an idiot, to make yourself look like a genius, to pursue passions. Guess what? Some people don’t even have clean water.

“You’re pulling that card?”

Totally, because it’s valid and it helps put things in perspective. You can influence the world in a bigger way than getting a 94 on that history exam.

“But I’m going to med school, that 94 gets me there.”

Awesome! We need doctors, desperately, but don’t let that stop you from living in the moment when other people never even get that chance. Do well, do well, do well, but don’t, for one second, think that if you do poorly it changes who you are as a person. Your GPA is an achievement, not a character trait. You are still you, regardless of the score you get on your economics final. You are still loved by those people from #2.

I’m not advocating laziness. I believe in working hard at whatever I do and I want all of you to push yourselves to succeed, but when your “success” comes at the cost of being a normal human being, I just don’t think it’s worth it anymore.

It’s December. There are twenty-one days until Christmas and twenty-eight days until New Year’s. It’s a season of joy, a time to celebrate the beauty that’s in our lives. Don’t let finals make things poopy.

The gist of all of this is that, twenty years from now, you’re going to look back at this week and wonder why on earth you were freaking out. After all, there are so many more important things than the numbers at the top of your transcript. 




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