And we are back.
Today marks the first day of December, which for many signifies the ever-awaited holiday season. However, the first weeks of December are not as cheerful on college campuses as they are in the majority of the world. Why? Final exams.
After being greeted back from Thanksgiving break with a final presentation/paper on Monday and another final presentation today, Christmas is far from my mind. When quantifying how long I have until Christmas, I think of it as this: I am four papers, two tests, and one interview away from Christmas break. Fortunately, all of these activities will take place in the next two weeks. Unfortunately, I have not even begun to prepare for any of them. This means that there will be absolutely nothing else on my mind for the next two weeks.
Except not. Let’s be honest, I will not be spending every waking moment working toward final papers and final exams. I can already picture myself diligently researching how a woman’s career affects her marriage when all of a sudden I think of the perfect Christmas gift for a friend. Before I know it, three hours will have passed and a carefully constructed folder will appear on my laptop filled with gift ideas for every person I know.
Although that may not be the most constructive way to finish my work, it does bring up a good point. We cannot simply let these last two weeks of first semester become entirely consumed by stress. If we attempt to spend every minute doing work, we will fail. The best way to stay focused during exams is to let yourself have some fun.
We have two weeks left of this semester, and it is important to make them count. This is my last fall semester at Vanderbilt until senior year (I am studying abroad next fall). Instead of stressing for exams the entire time, I should be enjoying the crisp winter air and engaging in the same festive holiday activities that I would if I were home. This is not an excuse to procrastinate on work, but a necessity in surviving exams. We must find a balance that allows us to both achieve good grades and a content life. Good grades are nothing if you aren’t happy.
Yesterday, my “big sister”in my sorority – Jenny – asked if I was available for brunch next Sunday. I responded, “Sure, but a short one.” Shortly after, she replied, “OK but it’s our going away brunch.” I was so caught up in exams that I did not even realize that these last two weeks are the last time I will be in school with her until the second semester of my junior year. As she goes abroad next semester and I go abroad in the fall, we won’t be able to grab brunch on Saturday mornings or run together on Sunday afternoons for an entire year. This is just one of many reasons why I shouldn’t waste my next two weeks stressing about grades, which are extremely important, but are not the end of the world.
College is as much about the social interactions and relationships you make as the education you receive. There is so much to learn about on a college campus that goes beyond school. When approaching exams this holiday season, remember to step back and think about where you are. College can be stressful, but it is also incredibly exciting. There is so much opportunity and so many fascinating people that surround you.
Happy December, and don’t forget to relax. But don’t get too comfortable – your main priority as a student is still your education!