Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Failing at Finals

I have been in college for a total of nine semesters (including summer semesters), 168 credits and four years; you would expect me to be at least proficient in navigating collegiate courses. 
This is not the case.
While I have gone through finals week 8 times before now, I have yet to master the art of acing a final. 
 Sure I pull off good grades (depending on your definition of "good" - I have yet to receive a 4.0) but when the end of the semester approaches... I fall to pieces.
This may be due to the fact that I doodle in the margins of my notes during class instead of paying attention or writing down pertinent information.
It may also be due to the fact that any class before 9 a.m. I find excuses not to go to at least once a week, or it may be attributable to my study approach: Start studying one day prior to test, cram all night and pray you remember something. 

If this narrative doesn't clearly explicate why I am the last person you should ask for study advice, the following illustrated time line of a typical finals night should. 

This is a true story.

To preface: I cannot study in rigid chairs or perched at a desk surrounded by other studious scholars, my approach to studying involves being sprawled out on a bed or couch with all necessary study materials scattered around me.

We begin.

18 Hours to test time: the studying commences.

I always start out strong. 

This assertive initial plunge lasts for nearly an hour; all synapses are firing, memory bank is open and functional and all information seems intriguing. It's during this fervent beginning I wonder why I didn't just pay attention in class and retain it since the material seems oh so comprehensible. 

Then, all the sudden, it stops. I hit a concept that just won't click or linger on a problem slightly too long and the productivity comes to a screeching halt. 

...and then I start to wander.

At first, my wanderings are short lived and I'm able to refocus quickly. 

But I decide I need a reward for my ardent efforts. 

Which means I get a snack break. 

I return to studying but the zeal is lost. I am not longer excited about chemical equations and organic mechanisms. 

I start to get sleepy... 

And succumb to the somnolent sensations. 

Ironically, If I had studied effectively for physiology I could tell you exactly how melatonin influxes cause those drowsy impressions, but I'm not very good at studying... so I can't. 

As I'm drifting off I'll negotiate a 15 minute nap with myself before returning to academia. 

I always end up sleeping much longer than planned. 

When I wake up 2-3 hours later, usually with keyboard marks on my face from sleeping on my computer,  I panic. 

The panic spurs new determination and a short lived kick for my study drive. 

But the panic subsides and my resolve goes with it. 

 I take a snack/caffeine break....

And a bathroom break....

Then weakly attempt to get regain my study ambition. 

Which usually fails, leading to yet another snack break. 

At this point I am nearly 5 hours into my study cram session, the test is a mere 12 hours away and I have managed to waste 4 of the last 6 hours. This begs the question, what did I do with that time? Which spurs the inevitable existential life crisis. 

I re-realize that I hate chemistry and biology and physics and school. 

I start to question myself. 

My brain, fried from the full 2 hours of real studying I did, turns on me. 
My entire college career now seems useless and futile. 

My sad conclusion induces a full scale depressive spiral. As always, ice cream is involved. 

An ice cream induced hang over follows, which consists of me regretting eating 2 pints of rocky road all by myself, contemplating buying another carton and eating the top layer so my husband doesn't find out I ate 2 pints of rocky road all by myself and staring at the ceiling planning an escape to South America to find "meaning" in my life. 

My depressive state persists until someone, usually mom or husband, find me in my pathetic state and convinces me I am doing something useful with my existence. 

This typically occurs at around T minus 9 Hours. 

An hour of re-coup and restoration work on my faith in higher education lands me back in the study seat, once again reluctant to actually study. By now I have wasted half of my allotted cram time table and have little to show for it. 

The remaining 8 hours prior to test time are filled with flustered bouts of studying, fueled by caffeine from nearly an entire 12 pack of diet coke, and random snoozing sessions. My memory usually retains the information just long enough to regurgitate it on the exam just before my body collapses from mental and emotional exertion affixed to 24 hours sleep deprivation and a massive caffeine overdose. 

Finals week destroys me. 

The moral of the story is, if you too are still navigating your way through college, learn from my tragic tale. Do not wait until 18 hours before a test to learn everything meant to be absorbed throughout the 12 week semester. Do not succumb to tricky mind games your subconscious plays to get out of studying;  do not stop for snack breaks every 10 minutes and consider studying in a public place so any and all meltdowns are mitigated by the fear of being that hysterical student on finals week.

The End.  


  1. I love your posts!!!! You are funny and your paintings are awesome!

  2. Oh Whit! I am sorry you had a melt down! Stay focused!

    1. Oh I will Mrs. SO I THINK I CAN DANCE! I still can't believe you were national T.V. multiple times. I feel so proud to know you.

  3. Less diet coke and more chocolate. Would work for me.

  4. Everyone has different studying habits. My sister is really smart so she takes a break from studies by watching movies. She is a lawyer now. Her husband (boyfriend during law school) would continue to study in the library while she watched the movie across the street then came back. And her grades were always higher though they both passed.

    My sister once told me to eat peanuts while studying so it will activate the brain and you will be smarter. I believed her and did it. I always passed exams, but I know now that the peanuts didn't do it so much as my faith in the peanuts.

    1. Peanuts. I shall try those, thanks for the suggestion!

  5. I totally ENJOY YOUR PAGE! your illustrations are too cute!! keep up with the updates.. will be dropping by very soon..

  6. This blog definitely inspired me to get out the ice cream and eat a chocolate chip cookie. I feel much better about everything now. :)


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