Okay, So Finals Week Doesn't Suck

Okay, So Finals Week Doesn't Suck

It's the week before that does (for me, at least).

I’m drowning. Somebody please save me from the ocean of final papers and assignments I’m drowning in, because there’s no way that I’m going to make it out of this semester alive.

OK, I probably will. I always do. So to speak, this isn’t my first rodeo—and it won’t be my last what with two more semesters to go. Every semester I get back up onto the Norse Bull and pray to any merciless soul that I get through it. Preferably, in one piece.

If I was going to come away not in one piece, I’d probably be sans a brain.

For me, it’s not finals week that has me humming a death march. It’s the two weeks before finals weeks. Right now, I’m trying to trudge my way through an annotated bibliography knowing that I still have more to get done. The only light that’s on at the end of the tunnel is my laptop begging me to charge it.

These final weeks are some of the hardest I’ve ever faced. I’m a straight up bear to be around who can’t seem to get enough sleep and who can’t string together a logical sentence unless it’s about my classwork. These weeks are overwhelming, stressful and panic-inducing. There is no clear cut way to survive it unless you’re a super genius who has great time management skills, and if you are, are you even human?

My life tends to be composed of post-it notes at this time of year. They’ve got angry little scribbles on them that have been crossed out to mark what I’ve done and what I’ve still got to do and ideas for the next assignment down the road. Without them, I feel out of control. Lost. Writing my life down for these last few weeks helps calm the raging (yet exhausted) beast that is my stress.

I always try to get stuff done early, but then my mind goes to that terrible place where I think about how I have a month left or how I’ve already got so much to do. Next thing I know, it’s the end of the semester and I’ve got even more to do.

The beginning of the semester trains you to think that life’s going to be easy—that it won’t get more difficult than a paper here and there, the occasional quiz. Hey look, an exam. But it’s all a trick, because then it all tumbles together until it’s uncontrollable and you’re Captain Jack Sparrow running from those people in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," which is your metaphorical end-of-the-semester (end-of-life?) work to do.

Why do we even do this?

I guess because it’s worth it. Because we have dreams. Because even if it’s just a laptop light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still a light. Because we’ve already come this far and put this much time, effort and money into it, so there’s really no going back.

Because we have a break just around the corner at the finish, taunting us, and soon making us forget just how much we hate the weeks before finals.

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Trying to Do It All?

How to Balance Work, School & Raising a Family

It can be difficult to maintain balance when you’re working, going to school, and have a family. The key to achieving balance is to stay organized and flexible. Here are some ways to help you do it all.

Ask About a Flexible Schedule

Your employer may be sympathetic to the challenges in your life. Ask your manager if you can work a more flexible schedule. This would allow you to focus on your family and your education. You may even decide that part time is a better option until you’re done with school. This can give you more time in your busy schedule to handle everything else. You don’t want to burn yourself out. This won’t benefit anyone, your employer included.

Look Into an Online Degree

One solution for working parents is to switch to an online educational program. If you’re going to school for nursing, for example, you could switch to a DNP program online. This would give you greater flexibility in balancing the rest of your life. You could work towards your degree at your own pace and in your own time. This can be after the kids have gone to bed. You can even consider doing your coursework while the kids are doing their homework. It can be family school time.

Plan Special Family Activities

A part of creating balance in your life is to spend quality time with your family. On your days off, plan memorable family activities. This way you can still feel as though you’re connecting with your family. Make sure to set aside some time for just you and your partner. You want to maintain all of the relationships in your life. This also means that you need to create some time for yourself. You don’t need to feel guilty because you’re busy.

Create a Calendar Organizer

The best way to stay organized and on top of your life is to be organized. You can do this by creating a calendar. Consider posting this calendar on the wall of your kitchen. That way the whole family can see what is going on and get excited about any upcoming events. You don’t want to forget something that is important. This will allow you to capture all the things that need to done. You may realize that you’ve overbooked by looking at this visual display of your activities.

To maintain balance you need to limit your distractions so that you can focus on the task at hand. Look into creative ways to make the most of your time.

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Code Yellow

A place that gives me so much support for my ambitions now felt like hell.

From the time I turned nine years old, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: get an education.

So, I forced myself to do just that. It seems as if I never get a break from studying or homework or waking up early to sit in three classes daily, but my education always comes first. As much as I refuse to admit it, I love school. But suddenly, it all changed for me. On Valentine's Day, a day to act on love, what was supposed to be a positive day turned into one filled with hate as Nikolas Cruz entered the doors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and began to shoot at innocent students. Students like me, who just want to succeed in life. It didn't affect me automatically. The fact that Broward County neighbored my county, Miami-Dade, left me anxious. The fact that the school shootings approached closer and closer to my home put things in perspective because it never occurred to me that it could happen so close to home.

Then, on Friday, schools all around me went on lockdown. People on Facebook threatened to burst into high schools and shoot them up, my alma mater included in the list. The anxiety rose more and more as I realized that my best friends could easily get hurt in a place that brings me peace - a place that gives me so much support for my ambitions now felt like hell.

Just this morning, I awoke from a nightmare that I got caught in the middle of a school shooting. When I finally got up and spoke to my mother about it, I bawled. It doesn't seem right that students can't feel safe anymore.

Will we ever feel safe again? I can’t even sit in my classrooms without wondering if the shuffling I heard in the hallway came from an intruder. It hurts. As a matter of fact, it sucks.

I hate that evil people decided that a place where one can grow should now become a place people fear. I hate that this country can spend millions of dollars on constructing highways instead of using it to bring security guards into school. I especially hate that politicians pass nonsense bills to repeal Obamacare instead of tightening up our gun laws, something that plays a more crucial role in the security of our nation.

I refuse to live in a country where my peace will get compromised as a new headline announces another school massacre. I am tired. I am pissed.

America, you beautiful nation, answer the prayers and use the thoughts to your advantage. I want my bachelor’s degree from Yale and I want to feel tranquility doing it, but I will not feel that until you elect officials who will advocate for a change! Let us make the first step in allowing our students to feel okay again. I sure as hell know that my dream won’t go down without a fight.

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