Finals are less than a week away. Needless to say, most college students are either in panic-mode, meltdown-mode or face palm-mode. Late nights in the library are now commonplace, with everyone jacked up on caffeine or energy drinks to get through these trying times. Regardless of the mode you are in, every college student is currently going through these stages of grief.

1) Denial

The “denial stage of grief makes people try to rationalize their overwhelming emotions, which is what many college students are doing right now. You try to block out reality and hide from the facts. Not to burst your bubble, but finals are actually here. At this time of year, when everything is so crazy—tests, last-minute assignments, making sure your grades and attendance are correct in Blackboard, and with approaching holidays—it can be hard to grasp that the most weighty exams are upon us. Finals are this week. Give yourself a minute to let that sink in. In this stage of grief, you don’t want it to be real. It can’t be, can it??? Finals??? Already??? No way. You are unable to grasp the reality of it all. This is why instead of studying, you’re huddled in a blanket in front of the TV, comforting yourself with Hallmark Christmas movies.

2) Anger

When the reality finally hits, it becomes the “anger” stage. Now that the disbelief has worn off and you have snapped out of your initial shock, you are outraged. You cannot believe that there is such little time left in the semester. You are angry because at this point, it is too late to try to do anything to change your fate and oh how you wish you could. In some classes you either need to make a perfect score (which we all know ain’t happenin’) or well…you don’t want to think about the alternative.

3) Bargaining

This stage is step in a more positive direction. You have had some time to fully come to terms with the fact that your Bio final is in two hours. When “bargaining,” people feel the need to regain control of themselves and their emotions, but still feel helpless and vulnerable. At this point, you’re probably giving yourself a pep talk to mask the fact that you would like to run across the Atlantic Ocean to avoid this final. “I got this. I studied. It won’t be that bad…unless she asks about Chapters 18 and 20.” Another type of “bargaining” response is to plead with a higher power to reverse the inevitable fate. I have often found myself asking God to stop time for me so that I can have more type to study!

4) Depression

Depression usually hits when there is about one hour left to exam time. Now, there is no point in continuing to try to cram because now your nerves have clued in to the fact that the final is really about to happen. And of course you don’t feel like you know enough and in your mind you have failed. You have lost all hope and feel like there is no point. You sink into a low mood that makes it hard to function. You are mostly silent, concentrating on the fact that your GPA is about to die. You have already started making plans for what you will do better next semester and what you will do if you end up failing.

5) Acceptance

Not everyone reaches this stage of grief, and it is not a time of happiness, but rather a time of calm and withdrawal from the negative energy that once held you back. There is no better place for acceptance for the college student than in the classroom, on the day of, after your Final Exam has been handed to you. This is it. It is now in your hands. So, you take a deep breath, pick up your pencil, and begin.

Best of luck to all my fellow college peers on final exams!

May time respect you, panic neglect you, studying protect you, and your GPA respect you.