Don’t let finals stress dominate a time for gratitude, reflection

Wake up. Study. Maybe eat. Sleep. Repeat.

During finals season, it can be easy to fall into a monotonous cycle. A veil of stress falls over the way we perceive everything around us. Moody’s architecture appears less like a cozy study hub and more like a jail. Hitting the books often necessitates kicking our social life to the curb. The natural tendency during finals season is to fixate on what we have to do, and in the process, we neglect to appreciate what we have already done. Take time this finals season to appreciate the semester coming to a close.

For seniors graduating in December, the end of the semester marks the conclusion of a chapter of life. Even those ambitious to enter the world on the other side of the graduation stage should be wary of leaving too hastily. Pausing to recognize the experiences and people that carried you to this moment makes passing this life landmark all the more satisfying and meaningful.

Finals often dominate the narrative of students’ last two weeks of the semester. However, there is much more at play during this time than just exams. This is also the last time you will regularly encounter the people in your class: both your classmates and professors.

Your class, or the small clans you have formed within the larger group, has likely bonded through study sessions, class discussions and joint projects. If you think about it, you may have even spent more time with your classmates than some of your friends; you sat next to each other for about an hour almost every other day for 13 weeks. As you all split off to scramble for the final, don’t forget to say goodbye. Don’t forget some students graduate in the winter, too.

You may also never have the same professor again. Studying for the final your professor has written up for you may elicit feelings of frustration or resentment. Rather than viewing the review material as a burden, realize that this new knowledge is a gift. Professors work to impart to you the knowledge of which they are passionate about.

If you’ve had a professor who has made a significant impact on the way you view a particular topic or facet of life, take the time to thank them. Professors hold office hours during study days during which you can stop by to express your gratitude. You could even take a study break to write your professor a thank you note. Changing your perception of course material from an additional stressor to an additional thing to be grateful for orient you into a mindset to retain the information better.

As you review old class material, revisit memories from this semester as well. College is about more than the grades you finish with. College is also about the moments in between — the “aha” moments in class, the anecdotes professors share, the laughs you and classmates exchange.

The value of your experiences this past semester can not quantified, though the numerical-based grade system may make it seem that way. Don’t reduce the experiences of your past semester to the number on your transcript. Your head may be so deep in your books you don’t even realize what’s passing by.

The last stretch of a semester is about so much more than finals. Don’t forget the path you’ve gone to get to where you are now.