Having fun during finals

If final exams tested students’ knowledge of Facebook applications and recent relationship status changes, there would perhaps be no need to even study. A 4.0 QPA would come effortlessly to the majority of students across campus. Unfortunately, however, students next week will begin the torture, not of studying people’s personal lives on social networking sites, but rather, the mechanics of trusses, the behavior of circuits, the intricacies of Java programming, the history of music and art, and the musings of long-ago literary works. Stalker Skills 101, given courtesy of Facebook, will not be tested.

Finals are stressful for students, to say the least. With some exams counting for as much as 40 percent of students’ grades, tensions run as high as can be as students prepare for the worst. An exam gone wrong can change a semester grade from an A to a B, or even a B to a C. And needless to say, a C for a Carnegie Mellon student can be likened to the end of the universe.

However, there is a side of exam time that students often forget. Final exams mean that the summer sun is just around the corner, and that another year of school has finally ended. The vacation coming up is three months of freedom, not a tease like mid-semester break, but a true time to relax, stop obsessively checking e-mail, and allow oneself to leave the realm of the university and hopefully get some sleep.

An unlucky few will have to wait until the last possible day to go home. By this time, the campus is relatively empty with the remaining students and the seniors, still waiting for commencement, splitting their time between trips to PHI Bar and musings on everything but the academics that have consumed four (or sometimes five) years of their lives.

Yet, there is something to be learned from the seniors. It is probably not a good idea to party the time away and not study, but relaxation and fun are the keys to remaining sane during final exams.

With the appropriate planning for finals studying, a student can manage to study, take breaks, and not go insane. While for some subjects, it may seem necessary to never stop studying, it is important to realize that a whole semester cannot be learned in a few days’ time. It is indeed unfortunate for someone to realize that he or she has not attended class in a long while and thus does not understand the course material, but sometimes limitations must be recognized. It is not beneficial, for example, to study for one test and not have time to even glance at another subject, or to study so much that a student oversleeps and misses the exam or is so tired that he or she does not remember the material studied the night before.

There are many ways to kick back and relax for short periods of time to take a break from studying.

Going to the gym, for example, can take as little as an hour, but can provide immense amounts of stress relief. Students can envision their differential equations exams in their heads as they take out their frustrations on a high-speed treadmill.

Seeing a movie or going out to dinner for a night can help to take final exams off of students’ minds. As long as a short dinner does not become an all-night pub crawl the night before a final, it is perfectly acceptable.

As Carnegie Mellon students, we are trained to keep working no matter the circumstances in an almost robotic way. Granted, this makes the real world that much easier to confront upon graduation. However, it is also necessary for the sake of students’ sanity to recognize that there is still life outside of studying during finals week.

For those unfortunate times when you return from dinner to a year’s worth of material for an insanely difficult course, it is important to make the most of your studying.

The best all-night study partner may not be your most talkative friend, with whom you could gossip for hours, unless you two can truly commit to concentration. The best place for studying, likewise, varies for everyone. While many find the tables at Hunt to be the best environment, others choose Starbucks or Kiva Han on Craig Street, while some students prefer to remain in the comfort of their own desks.

Regardless of location, students require fuel to study and perform at their maximum abilities. For a nice break from studying, first-years need only combine their leftover DineX dollars and Vocelli’s. Upperclassmen can stock up beforehand or traipse among the late-night venues of www.campusfood.com or www.mealsdelivered.com looking for that one cheap, special snack to get them through the night.

Exam time may not be the most fun for a large number of students; however, it is no doubt one of university bonding. All Carnegie Mellon students are in it together and feel each other’s pain. That desk full of huge index card piles, scary textbooks, and incomprehensible notes is the only thing between this year and the next. And, in the middle of the two, there is all of summer break to catch up on much-needed sleep and sanity of mind with no mention of the number pi, classic literary works, or the threat of the much-feared R.