In between now and Friday, I have only eight classes left this semester. Unbelievable. With the thermometers reading seventy degrees and two more essay deadlines looming this week, though, it doesn’t feel like the time to reflect on the semester just yet. Instead, I want to share some thoughts on the upcoming season at William & Mary. DoG Street is dotted with adorable pine trees, Spotify recommends I listen to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, and every coffee shop is serving peppermint and gingerbread lattes: it must be finals season.
Especially as a first-semester freshman, I was terrified of the concept of “finals.” It just sounded so collegiate and intimidating. At some point in between last fall and now, in between studying up on Nietzsche at the Daily Grind (which of course made me feel infinitely cooler than anything) and outlining my Historical Perspectives on Science paper due in two weeks, I developed my philosophy on finals. It’s a Blur song and this post’s title, and I hope it helps!
Coffee, for me, is not just about the caffeine. It’s always part of my morning routine, and when I have a paper to write or test to study for, I like to have a cup by me. That’s the key to navigating finals season without too much fuss: normalize the experience by holding onto your routines. It might be finals season, but at least in my experience (most departments except the lab sciences), finals are either sit-down tests or essays. Exams take place over a maximum three hour period at some point during the two weeks at the end of the semester, and essays have a deadline. This semester, I have three exams and two essays; already, I have had at least one test already in all of my exam-based classes, and have written at least one serious assignment in each of my essay-based classes. Finals might be weighed more heavily in my final grade, but at the end of the day, they’re familiar material in a familiar format. That’s reassuring because it means I can treat finals like any other exam or essay: talk over the relevant material with classmates, go into office hours with professors to brainstorm and clarify information, stay rested, and keep it all in perspective.
Television is a rarity for me here, but refers to the bigger idea of downtime and relaxing during finals. Yes, finals are stressful and yes, William & Mary students are up for the challenge, but have you ever been to Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg, gotten hot chocolate at Blue Talon when the first snowflakes of the season fall, or decided to just sit at the amphitheater by Matoaka and watch the water for a bit? There is so much more to do this time of year than sit in the library and try to retain every word on a study guide, and past a certain point, cramming isn’t even helpful. I try to schedule at least one study break a day, whether it’s dinner with a friend or a walk around New Campus if I’ll be working late at night, during finals. This definitely keeps morale and productivity high.
Taken together, Coffee & TV also sums up my last tip for a healthy, happy finals season: a good soundtrack. By this point, I know what music is motivating and what is distracting, which lyrics I would rather actively listen to and which I can have on in the background. My favorites depend on the subject, time of day, and nature of the assignment, so if you want any recommendations, just let me know!
This can definitely be a stressful time of year, but with a little routine and relaxation, finals are totally manageable. Good luck to everyone with this last week of classes and everything coming up!
Also, I couldn’t wait until the news came out: good energy to those of you hearing back about Early Decision soon! I can’t wait to welcome you into the Tribe!