How to Survive Hell Week and Finals Week

How to Survive Hell Week and Finals Week

Ready or not, here they come...

Across the country, college students are preparing for hell week (the week before finals) and for finals week. These two weeks are two of the four most stressful weeks for every college kid. If you haven't experienced this yet, be prepared to feel every emotion and to consider every option there possibly is just to get out of finals. Different students have different ways of serving these two weeks - we go through hell and back, but we end up surviving and living to tell the tale.

1. Spread out your studying, don't just cram it all in the night before.

Surprise! You have a final in a week and, guess what, you've known about it ever since your professor handed you their syllabus. If you look and plan ahead, you won't have to worry about pulling an all-nighter the day before an exam.

2. Make use of your Keurig, coffeepot, or campus coffee shop.

If you do end up pulling an all-nighter, you're going to need energy, so you're going to need caffeine. Coffee can be expensive, especially if you haven't worked it into your budget. Whenever I have a study session, I make sure that it is in a building that is near the coffee shop on campus or has a vending machine with coffee in it.

3. Limit your all-nighters.

I'm not going to tell you that you aren't going to stay up all night once or twice before finals because you most likely will, especially if you're trying to get in some last minute studying. However, please don't be that person that does it three or four nights in a row. It isn't good for your body and you'll be pushing yourself past your limit, even if you've done it before.

4. Do not forget to eat.

I will personally preach to you to eat healthy during these times. It seems silly but your body needs the brain food more than the junk food during this time. It's OK to order the pizza once or twice a week, but make sure that you are also balancing it out with other healthy options - your body will thank you for it later. Also, try to keep your eating schedule the same as well.

5. Make use of online tools.

Believe it or not, but your computer can also find sites other than Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest that can actually help you study. I personally use Quizlet for flashcards, which really help with foreign language classes. Another hack is to google "site:edu [subject] exam." With this it will bring up different college exams and practice problems that can help you study.

6. Don't be afraid to take breaks.

If you've been studying for a long period of time, don't be afraid to take a break - your brain deserves one. It's OK to watch one episode of Netflix to ease your mind off things, it won't kill you - just don't let that one episode turn into a marathon and watch an entire season. Apart from Netflix, make sure that you take breaks to eat and drink plenty of water. If you have time, take a moment or two to stretch and even go outside - your body will need the fresh air from being cooped up inside all day.

7. Form study groups with people who actually study.

This is something that everyone is going to stress because you're actually going to need to study. At the beginning of the semester, or during mid-terms, make a study group of people who will actually study with you. Get your stuff done sooner so you can study for other classes as well. If you do form a study group, make sure to reserve a room up to a week in advance, if you can, so that way you aren't going on a massive search to find a study room. Surround yourself with people who are going to stay on task so that way you stay on task.

8. Know your learning style.

Everyone has their own way of learning - some learn better in groups, while some learn better by just rereading through their textbook and notes. Don't try to force yourself to study in a way that isn't your way of learning because it won't do much for you. If flash cards work best for you, make flashcards or use Quizlet. If groups work best for you, make a group and talk out all the information.

9. Exercise and keep up your usual routine.

Even if you feel like you don't have the time, you can easily make the time. Hit the gym and take your flash cards or textbook with you. Last hell week and finals week, I found that the gym was the busiest because people were getting their endorphins pumping since it can make a world of a different on your stress levels. Do not drastically rearrange your life just because of finals. Get up at the same time, head to bed at the same time, eat at the same time, shower at the same time - your body is used to your routine, don't change it.

10. Write out your schedule for the last month of school.

At the beginning of the mouth (or middle), make a calendar that you can arrange when every assignment is due and when your finals are - it will feel great when you get to cross off something that you've been work on forever. This will also help you stay organized.

11. Get rid of all possible distractions.

Turn off your phone and tv, you can have music playing, but make sure you have all screens off (except for your computer if you're actually using it productively). See everything as a distraction and don't get caught up in the never-ending scrolling because before you know it, it's midnight and you've only studied for all of 10 minutes. Some people really like to use earplugs - I would recommend this for exams and studying in public spaces because even the quietest noise can be distracting.

12. It's OK to cry about it, but don't stress out to the point of death.

We all do it - we all cry and that's OK. We all know that hell week and finals week are tough, but don't let that stress make you spontaneously combust. If you do cry, try not to get it on any papers that you have to hand into your professor - they may count off for tear streaks.

Overall, hell week and finals week is a rough time in all of our lives, but it is possible to live through it. Keep your life and sh*t together (somewhat) and you'll be just fine. I have full confidence that y'all will make it through finals and pass with flying colors. Happy hell week! And happy (almost) finals week! (PS, remember, soon they will be a thing of the past!

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.

So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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A Little Glimpse Into What It's Like To Grieve In Your 20s

Debunking the stigma behind grief in the everyday young adult


A few days before last semester my little brother, Ethan, took his life. After years of him struggling to find his place in the world, he put his troubles and sorrows to rest. I had just moved into my sorority house to begin my Junior year, and a few days later I awakened late at night with several missed calls and messages. My dad texted me saying, "Ethan passed away Blair, dad is so sorry." When I first read the text, I had to keep reminding myself that it was real. Shortly after receiving that, my parents and family friends came to bring me home from school.

The next few days were filled with a roller coaster of emotions. I was reuniting with old friends and community members for days on end while we were all trying to understand the immense pain that my brother had felt. Soon, I went back to school because I knew that even in times of tragedy, life goes on. Above all else, I knew it's what my brother would have wanted. Being back at school is/was interesting. I felt like I was being judged by everyone for returning to school so early. I was in no way ready to discuss my family's recent tragedy, and I am still not ready to discuss it, yet people insist on asking for information regarding my brother's death. Despite this, the people around me continuously promised to support me when I was feeling sad or hopeless. The weeks after Ethan's death had me in a complete fog, making it hard to focus even to this day.

Fortunately, not many people have to deal with the death of a sibling at such a young age. Subsequently, many are not sure how to handle such a thing. I am often at a loss for words for what this experience feels like. Often times I feel bad that people don't know how to respond to me. Grief is something I would never wish upon someone.

Even on the days I feel alone, I know that there are people here to support me.

It means the world to me when people reach out and ask how I am doing, or to meet up with me for something as simple as ice cream. I appreciate this more than one knows.

On top of dealing with my brother's death I was dealing with rejection from a boy for the first time. Rejection of any kind is difficult, and is something everyone experiences in their life. Although I have felt rejection in many forms, especially being an aspiring actress, this was the first from a potential suiter. The loss of any friendship has been so hard after losing my brother. It has been hard to process other aspects of my life, and especially the crazy life of dating and being a 20-year-old in college. Moving on, and separating my grief from that rejection has been no easy feat.

As my semester was coming to a close, I ran into the boy I was interested in at a holiday party. This time of year had proven to be hard for me when I thought of the happy times spent with my brother during the holidays. That night was the first time I was unable to compose myself and put my best face forward being the actress I am. I couldn't hide my emotions anymore and I was overcome with grief. I had hit rock bottom. This journey has consisted of immeasurable self-doubt and soul searching.

Soon after the holiday party, I was told by someone who has been an authoritative figure to me, that "I was grieving weirdly" and that I "should go home for the rest of semester and take an incomplete". There were only two weeks left of the semester and my grades were great. I was so deeply offended by this notion, and that they had the audacity to judge the way I was grieving. I have been trying my best, and that is all that I can do. Despite this toxic conversation, I finished out the semester strong and took my well-deserved three-week break. My break was filled with much needed respite, creative inspiration, and time to collect my thoughts.

Coming back to school, I had an open conversation with my community on the reasonable steps they could take to support me in my journey for the rest of the school year. All someone that is grieving asks, is for you to sympathize with them. Thankfully, it was received well and I look forward to my upcoming semester.

There is often a stigma behind people who are actively grieving. Yes, I am going through a lot, yes, I am sad. But that doesn't mean I am incapable of loving life and experiencing things going on around me at school or in my life. This especially includes dating. I have learned that it is okay to embrace my feelings and express them in whatever way I deem fit. Grieving the loss of my brother has also made me stronger than ever. I can handle anything and I am ready to make my impact on the world.

Everyone experiences pain, struggle, grief, etc. What matters most, is how they come out of it. I want to continue the message of kindness. I am so grateful for my newfound bravery and at the end of the day, I will always miss my brother's unique perspective and outstanding sense of humor. If he were here today, first he'd probably roast me and then I know he would only want the best for me. In the end I plan to live my happiest life.

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