Here at University of Mary Washington, it has finally descended upon us: Finals Week (see also: Hell Week, the Week of Weeping and Seven Days of Stress). The coffee pot is bubbling, the bags under the eyes are bulging and the faint whiff of desperation hangs in the dark corners of the library. Festive!
However, the students and college employees refuse to let this get them down.
Below are some ways devised to help students at UMW climb up the face of Finals Mountain so they can stand astride the Peak of Accomplishment, look out over the Vista of Satisfaction and think to themselves “I should probably take that shower now.”
UMW students know that in order to tackle something big, they have to make sure to recharge first. “Following all of the final papers and projects that had to be turned in, I took a day and a half just to relax,” freshman Jane Hill said. She wasn’t the only one. Junior Meagan Morrison also recommended relaxing the weekend before finals instead of cramming. For those willing to venture out of their dorm room, the university offers crafts and snacks, as well as massage therapists for a few hours during the week at the University Center.
2. But then, STUDY
However, it’s not just non-stop relaxation. Once that period is over, students stake out their study territory—with the prime real estate being the Simpson Library or the Hurley Convergence Center. “I take the time to study and review the material for each class, but don’t spend too much time looking at one thing,” freshman Kira Frazee said. Sounds like a solid and comprehensive approach.
3. Check out the University Center for some Therapy Dog time
How does the university itself help students when it’s mid-week and seems like the finals never end? Almost every single student interviewed mentioned therapy dogs, which are a great way to de-stress. A look at the Student Activities and Engagement website reveals that for Fall 2018 finals, there are plans to have therapy dogs for students at the University Center Monday through Friday between noon and 3 p.m. If you’d feel better after cuddling a friendly dog for a few minutes, be sure to check them out.
4. Go grab some free snacks
It’s easy to forgo something like food when you have a major project worth 30% of your grade due the next day. But food- like sleep- is important to make sure that you’re in top cognitive shape. The university provides free snacks to students throughout the week at the University Center, as well as coffee in the evening on Tuesday at the Simpson Library.
5. Words of Encouragement
Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about all the assignments and studying you have to do and how you’ll never be able to do them all. But a good way to fight this kind of thinking is reminding yourself that yes, you can handle it. UMW tries to remind students of this as much as they can. “They put up a bunch of signs around campus that are just nice to see,” Frazee said. She isn’t the only one who appreciates encouraging words. Student and veteran Larry Cox said that he likes to recite the U. S. Marine’s Rifleman’s Creed.
6. Engage in a physical activity on campus
It’s tempting to completely forgo everything in lieu of studying, but physical activity help with mental efforts, too. The university knows this, and during finals week they offer a variety of physical activities- from jujitsu classes to candlelight yoga in Goolrick Hall.
7. Come Together with a campus bonding activity
The university hosts some group events, such as movie screenings in Chandler Ballroom and cram sessions in University Center. The students themselves also form groups and study with their fellow classmates. These activities end up creating support networks for the students as they work through the week. “The Veteran’s Resource Center is a cool hangout and my surrogate family,” Cox said. They also talk with their support networks back home, too. Freshman Kaylee Feather keeps her phone handy for FaceTime pep talks with a friend. “Even though she’s at another university, it’s nice knowing you got a cheerleader just a click away when you feeling stressed,” Feather said. Remember: just because your family isn’t there physically, doesn’t mean they can’t be there for you emotionally.
8. Venting…and Gratitude
You know how it is: you have a pile of stressful things to hold, and you’re doing fine, and then just one more stressful thing happens—maybe you forgot an assignment, or the final location was changed and you have no idea where—and suddenly all the deep breaths in the world don’t help. A coping mechanism that can be helpful? Venting. Done sparingly, of course, it can help students bond with each other over their shared misery and remind us that we could always have it worse. One UMW student shared that a fire alarm went off during her final; another had to walk through hurricane conditions to take hers while soaking wet. With that in mind, turning in a final essay or two doesn’t seem so bad.
9. Focus On The Future
Most students take deep breaths and remind themselves that what’s happening is only temporary. “Focusing on the future helps ease my present concerns,” Hill said. Just think about the month of relaxation ahead.
Sometimes, procrastination is actually a good thing. Productive procrastination is when you put off an important task (like finishing that essay) by doing other tasks that technically need to be done but which may not be as important. But when it comes to getting home at the end of the week, it’ll be easier to leave if your stuff is already packed. So, if you want to put off that essay just a little bit longer, why not try packing up some of your belongings? You know, while you’re taking “a break”.