Now that Turkey-day has passed and all the requisite feasting and weight gain is a fading memory, it is time for our attention to turn to more serious matters, like finals. Wait! Don’t start whining yet. Finals are a joyous time of year. Someone should declare them a national holiday. They have the capacity to build community, improve our sleep habits, and bring joy to the hearts of many stressed-out souls.
Little brings people together better than a common cause to gripe over. The end of semester crunch provides many such opportunities. Soon the dining halls, study lounges and dorms will be echoing with familiar phrases such as “There is no way I can write this 15 page paper by tomorrow,” “I’m going to fail,” and “Why does my history professor expect me to know the exact date that King Louis XIV sneezed for the 7,422nd time?” If hearing such tragic laments doesn’t stir up your natural capacity for empathy and inspire you to comfort the poor, beleaguered soul you might want to check your pulse – you might be dead.
Alternatively, there is that old adage, “misery loves company.” When you know that you have a bone grinding test tomorrow and you’ll be up all night studying there is no reason to go it alone; let the rest of your dorm in on the fun. Crank up the music a bit just to discourage your neighbors from seeking sleep and every time your eyes start to droop go knock on someone’s door; see how their studying is going. This is a sure fire way to stay awake and you’ll get to know many different sides of your fellow dorm mates by morning. You may have to ignore the police they’ve called in to place a restraining order on you, though.
All right, you say, I see how finals could improve our sense of community spirit, but sleep habits; you must be joking! Well, you don’t have to put up with all those pesky classes; no more getting up at 7:30 to cram chemistry formulas into your foggy mind. The earliest finals don’t start until 9:00 a.m., so that gives you an extra hour of sleep right off the bat. If you are really lucky, all your finals will turn out to be self-scheduled. You could take them all at 6:00 at night if you wanted to. Think of all the sleep you could gain. This still leaves the problem of those irritating papers and late night voodoo sessions where you try to absorb your notes through osmosis; certainly they infringe upon one’s beauty sleep. The trick is to look for the long-range benefits. You never miss something until it is gone, and there is nothing like sleep deprivation to make you appreciate and take full advantage of the five weeks Colgate generously provides for winter break.
The true reason that finals deserve to have a monument erected in their honor in the Capitol is the amount of joy and release they provide. There is nothing like spending a whole semester stretched tight as a rubber band and then having all that tension release in a single instant the moment you leave your last exam. Ah, the sense of peace, the serenity. Having finals as a climatic crescendo to your semester clearly marks that your pain is over. If the semester didn’t end with a high-powered blowout event, you might not realize it was over. Winter Break would certainly be less restful if you kept waking up every morning, or at 3:00 in the afternoon, thinking you’d missed class.
So buck up, set your teeth straight and get ready to face finals head on. Even if they don’t go as well as planned, be comforted knowing that your grades really won’t matter much after the end of your four year stint in the University. So cheers, and, good luck.