It seems as though most people I talk to who aren’t currently students always have so much sympathy during finals. “Oh, it’s finals, you must be so busy, I won’t ask you to do anything.” Honestly, before I came to university I thought college finals would be extremely challenging and I’d have to study for eons beforehand to do well.
As it turns out, my past self and all these other folks are wrong.
It’s not finals that get you, it’s midterms. At BYU, classes end and then you have two reading days to study and prepare for finals. After this you have 5-7 finals in five days. And no other school obligations. Or other obligations because everyone you do things with has kindly given you time. You know, “for finals.” If you work for/at BYU, you may even get work off, too. Because they’re too cheap to pay you over the holidays. During midterms, on the other hand, you have classes five days a week (or, let’s be honest here, four for me), homework for all of your classes, papers to write, and possibly another midterm or two happening this week.
Midterms are the crucible of my college semester. In a two week period I’ve had two thesis proposals due, one paper, and three midterms. I’m in a writing heavy program. I have to write a research paper with an original thesis for every one of my major classes. In order to find a thesis, one must first wade through enough of the scholarly literature to make sure that what you want to say a) hasn’t been said before and b) is at least remotely defensible. So when I say that thesis proposals are due, I really mean that I need to put in 3-6 hours at the library wading through all of the material I need to in order to come up with a good thesis. And those exams? The last bit of material on the exam was covered a day and a half before it’s given, so eve if I started studying earlier, there’s always more to do. And then there’s work, and any other social or church obligations that you have going on. Because nobody gives you a break “for midterms.” Those are the easy tests, aren’t they?
I actually love finals. I love watching movies in the evenings because there’s no homework or classes. In fall semester, I make candy and Christmas cookies for people. Because everyone has given me time! I have enough time to study and do fun stuff! One semester, I read the entirety of my sister-in-law’s 90,000 word book during finals week to relax. And when you actually take the final, instead of the crushing weight of that paper you have left to write, homework, and three midterms (not to mention the entire second half of the semester awaiting you), it’s something crossed off a list that is becoming increasingly small. And then there’s Christmas! Or summer! Hooray!
So give me a finals week any week above a midterm week. I may even make you some caramel or sugar cookies.