A Junior's Advice On Surviving Finals Week
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Student Life

A Junior's Advice On Surviving Finals Week

From someone who's done it six times and won't take her own advice.

A Junior's Advice On Surviving Finals Week

You think that as someone more than halfway through her college career, I would have figured out how to handle finals week. I would have figured out a more constructive fashion of channeling stress than watching the "Grey’s Anatomy" episode where Mark dies 37 times or seeing how many Zanotto’s sandwiches one person can consume in a week before they either go broke or die trying. Well, everyone, I am far from perfect, though looking at me from the outside, you might not think that. I, too—despite my always perfectly penciled eyebrows—suffer through finals week like the rest of my peers.

My sophomore year fall quarter, I drank six venti coffees in one day and spent 22 straight hours in the library before I realized that I could no longer see straight and my palms were so sweaty that I couldn’t even grip a pen. I didn’t even really retain any material I studied in those 22 hours. If you asked me anything about Math 8 today, I would laugh in your face and tell you that all I remembered was once going to office hours and crying real tears to my professor to help me because I was so lost and my grade was the only thing in my life lower than my self-esteem.

I told myself that the next quarter would be different. (It wasn’t.) In fact, no quarter has been different since. I have tackled finals week with the same disarray and stress that I have for the past two and a half years. The thing is, I have learned. I know how to deal with finals week; I just actively choose to procrastinate by testing the limits of my Netflix account and see if it’s physically possible to dehydrate yourself by crying. To anyone reading this, don’t be like me. I am a sorry excuse for a college student. Finals week is completely manageable. You really do have the time and resources at your disposal to succeed. From the girl who cannot and will not take her own advice, here are my top 12 tips for surviving finals week:


I don’t mean subsisting off of iced lattes and SmartPop. Eat real meals. Food is fuel for your brain and I promise after a hearty meal, you’ll be able to focus infinitely better. Keep your blood sugar up and you’ll probably cry less, too.


No, not alcohol. Water is your friend during times like these. You don’t realize how dehydrated you’re getting when you sit in the library for hours on end. Water can do a better job of keeping you alert and awake than coffee can, and drinking lots of water provides you with the perfect excuse to strut your way to the bathroom so your library crush will notice you.


We don’t shell out stupid amounts of money on cute planners for nothing, right? Finals week is the best time to put them to use. Planning out of your day and your studying will help you be more productive than you think, because just by making a plan, you’ve already set yourself on the road to an accomplished day.


When you get up, get out, and get your blood moving, your body rewards you, big time. You’ll find you’re able to focus better and think more clearly. All it takes is an hour doing an exercise of your choice. Whether you hop on the treadmill, the elliptical, or pump some iron, that iron you devote to your physical well-being will have a big return on your mental well-being.

Take breaks

Yes, even during finals week, you have time to take a break. You know that you’re already spending at least two hours of your studying time tooling around on your phone, so you might as well make it count. Watch an episode (or two) of your favorite Netflix guilty pleasure, clear your brain, and then get back to studying. It’s terrible for you to sit and stare at a screen and take notes for hours without end. Give your eyes and your head a break.

Treat yourself

Do a face mask. Paint your nails. Order take-out. Online shop. Whatever fuels your fancy, do something to treat yourself during finals week. That little self-esteem booster is just what you need to remind yourself that you’re human and there is life beyond finals. I usually do all of the aforementioned items. All that and nothing else. God, I hate finals.

Call your mom

First off, she misses you. Second, there is nothing more soothing in this world than a mother’s voice. Sure, if you’re like me, you might burst into tears the second she picks up the phone and says, “Hi, baby girl!” but let’s be real, you were probably going to cry at some point in the day anyway. Plus, they’ve always got incredible advice to share. They know just what to say to make finals week that much more manageable.

Don’t procrastinate

I realize I sound like a broken record, but if you know how hefty your work load is going to be during finals week, then get real about how much you can manage and do your best to get some of it done beforehand. Even just making essay and presentation outlines or finding scholarly sources for a research paper will help you.

Clean your room

There’s a cathartic and soothing quality to knowing that while the library might as well be your new mailing address, you have a clean room and a made bed waiting for you when you get to indulge on whatever meager amount of sleep you can afford. By doing your laundry, vacuuming your horrifyingly dirty floor, or doing the dishes, you’re also helping wire your brain for productivity.

Talk to your professors

Office hours are there for a reason. Believe it or not, your professors do actually want to help you. Even if you just go to them to ask for advice on what you should be studying or how to best study, chances are, they’ll actually help you. They want you to succeed, even if only for the purely selfish reason that they want gratification that they’re doing their job well.

Make a killer playlist

When you have the right tunes to accompany the painful amount of hours you have to spend in the library, studying becomes that much easier (not that much, but still a considerable amount). I highly recommend The Weeknd’s new album. His beautiful voice and driving funk beats are just the inspiration you need to be reminded that there is life beyond the library.

Remember that it’s only a week

Unless you have a sadistic professor (I have) that assigns you a “midterm” week 10 and another exam during finals week, your finals week lasts just that—a week. In the grand scheme of things, it’s seven days of a bold and beautiful life that you lead. When you turn in that exam or essay or whatever, it’s over. That’s it. It’s over.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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