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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Chosen Rosen: Battling the end-of-semester blues

Published: April 29, 2011
Section: Opinions

It’s that time of year—what our professors refer to as “the home stretch” and what we students like to call “Hell Week.” This is the time of the year that nobody likes. Sure, some of us are eager to scramble home and get our summers started, but the rest of us are too focused on acing all of our tests before we can think about whether to go to Six Flags or Dorney Park this summer. And the only thing that stands between us and summer is finals.

Before we know it, it will be mid-May. Finals will be a blur and we will be saying our heartfelt goodbyes to all of the friends we’ve made during the past year. We will pack up our stuff (I don’t know how I’m getting half of the stuff in my room home—nor am I aware of what possessed me to bring five seasons of “Scrubs” with me to college).

Soon enough, we will head back to our old lives, the lives we put on hold when we came here in the fall. We’ll reconnect with our old friends, enjoy home-cooked meals (regrettably, it will be a Sherman-less summer), and watch baseball games with our friends and family. That sounds a little more pleasant than burying ourselves in the library for the next two weeks to memorize every Supreme Court case that was adjudicated under John Roberts.

But unfortunately, the latter scenario is the predicament most of us find ourselves in right now. And as the days number down, students are finding it hard to keep their chins up. They have to cope with anxiety, nerves and the dreaded “end-of-the-semester blues.” How do you combat the end of the semester blues? How do you cope with studying for finals, doing papers, completing assignments you should have done months ago, catching up on readings, preparing to head home and getting in those last meaningful moments with friends?

It’s all about time management. Consider what is most important and make that your top priority. Studying for finals should be at the top of your list. After all, this entire year will have been for nothing if you do not, at the very least, pass your finals. Your friends can wait. You can see them during meals (yes, you still need to eat during finals week) or you can study with them, if you are able to do that without getting distracted.

Still stressed about finals? Here are some tips to help you suppress the stress!

1. Don’t overwork yourself. Adding stress to stress does not equal success. Find time to eat and sleep and get in five minutes or so of fun a day.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute. Start studying early to avoid having to read a memoir and two novels the night before your exam.

3. Minimize distractions. If the sound of the radiator is providing an endless distraction, go outside and study, instead of burying yourself in the dungeon for three days in a row. But if you’re the type of person whose mind wanders at the sight of anything even remotely interesting, I wouldn’t recommend studying outside, as it will have you tracking a squirrel instead of doing your work.

4. Don’t procrastinate! That means no Facebook, no Twitter and no Sporcle during study time. You have to stay on task! If you can’t stay off of Facebook, deactivate it for a week or block it from your Internet browser. You can just unblock it after finals are over.

5. Take breaks while studying. Staring at a computer screen or browsing through a textbook can make your eyes (and your brain) really tired. To keep yourself fresh, take breaks every two hours or so.

6. Study actively. That means you need to do more than just review your notes—you should make a review sheet, repeat things out loud to remember them, and brainstorm possible essay tasks and responses.

7. Listen to music while you study. Listening to music can be a very good way to help you concentrate on your work but make sure it’s a song you know well. If you listen to a song you haven’t heard before, you’ll be more focused on the song than your work.

8. Don’t panic! If you find yourself stressing out the night before your history exam, feeling like you don’t know a thing about history, take a step back and relax. As important as these exams are, they’re just exams. They’re not worth losing all your friends, not sleeping for a week and spiking your blood pressure over.

After final exams are over, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The semester is over—the year is over …

The excitement of shopping classes, the strain of making your schedule, the lines outside Sherman three or four days per semester, the Saturday night party-hopping, the hilarious YouTube parodies that you watched with friends, the lectures that never seemed to end, the late-night spiritual discussions you had in Usdan until you got kicked out at 2 a.m., the time you forgot your laundry was still in the machine and a week later figured out why you were missing all your clothes, the time you were locked outside the SCC without a key for an hour with an unfinished research paper, all of the times you had an urge to play Ultimate Ninja—the amusement of Purim, the thrill of winning trivia night at Ollie’s, the frustration of your roommate’s cluttered space, the agitation of standing at a corner in Waltham waiting for the BranVan, the delight of finding out that Rice Krispie treats has C-Store Meal Equivalency (and the anger of learning that string cheese does not), the fatigue of a Thursday night all-nighter, the glory of an A, the failure of a B, the exhilaration of making a new friend, the ache of losing an old one …

Enjoy your summer, everyone, because when we come back, we get to do it all over again.