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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

A Finals Week Survival Guide

So, we tried to write a list of helpful and widely applicable tips for surviving finals, but writing that sort of thing is no easy task. The thing is, we all get through difficult times in different ways; some of us go to study breaks, some of us avoid the world, some of us sleep too much and some too little. There is no exact formula for success during these challenging times — the simple truth is that you need to practice self-care in whatever way makes the most sense for you as an individual. What works for us may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for your friends and so on. That’s the thing about self-care; it’s all about you, not what works for anyone else. So, if you take anything from our column this semester, it should be to use the resources around you to take care of yourself in a way that works for you. As a very wise [2013]er wrote on the wall in Bob’s, “Self-care is not selfish, it’s an act of survival.”

(Most important tips are asterisked.)


#1 Be realistic*

Take a step back right now. What do you have to do? How are you going to do it? When does it need to be done by? If there are a lot of conditions to getting your projects completed, it’s best you begin to check in with resources (see #4) now. The sooner you do, the easier it will be. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of finals that you forget to think about the details of exactly what you need to do to accomplish your goals. If you are thinking through your next couple of weeks and realize that you might need some help, reach out to those resources now! Be realistic with your aspirations and limitations – it will help in the long run. (We speak from experience.)


#2 Sleep*

Whether you take cat naps at four in the afternoon or go to bed at three and wake up at ten, figure out a sleep schedule that means you’ll actually sleep and which will allow you to do work, show up to class and literally stay woke. Sleep tends to be the first thing to go during stressful times, yet it is absolutely critical to maintaining your health, academic success and general well-being. We understand that sometimes it’s necessary to stay up a little later or wake up early, but just try and remember that sleep does matter.


#3 Utilize your resources*

Find the people who are paid and trained to listen and help you. This is a stressful time of the year and utilizing resources around you could make a big difference. Also, remember your friends have a lot on their plates too right now. Although it’s important for your friends to know what’s going on, they can’t always commit their full energy to you. We have an abundance of resources on campus — lots and lots of paid professionals who care about your wellbeing. Reach out to them, and use your resources as best you can.




#4 Try not to compare stress levels and workloads*

We (Grinnellians) have a nasty habit of engaging in a culture of competitive suffering. We often compare our stress levels and workloads making it into a needless competition, or if we’re not doing that, it’s easy to assume that your peers are doing just fine and have their lives in perfect order. But the truth is none of us really have it together and we all live and work differently. There is simply no comparison. Trying to compare stress and suffering doesn’t help anyone; not you nor the people you’re comparing yourself to. Just do what you can, regardless of how you think everyone else is doing.


#5 Let yourself off the hook*

It’s okay. It will somehow be okay. If you need someone to actually tell you that, message or find us. We are here for you.


#6 Know when you need to check out*

Whatever your body’s signs are that you need to step out of a situation, leave a study group, find a new place to work or take a break, try to recognize it and then actually remove yourself. Walks are great. Someone told us about how they wound down with video games today. Physically leave, do it.


#7 Embrace the rush

TO AN EXTENT – use the adrenaline to finish projects and power through, but if it starts to feel overwhelming, check out.


#8 Take an incomplete.

This is probably one of the biggest secrets at Grinnell. If you are feeling overwhelmed or for some reason feel like you will be unable to complete your coursework by the last day of classes, an incomplete is a fabulous option. It provides you extra time to complete your classes without any punishment — there are no repercussions and no impacts on your transcript. It simply allows you to finish your assignments in the two weeks after finals are over. You can get a form in the Student Affairs office on the third floor of the JRC — they’re due by Dec. 9.


#9 Go to the important study breaks.

There are a lot of study breaks, so don’t go to all of them. Do go to some of them. They are a good opportunity to bond with friends, schedule in breaks and take time to eat. We personally recommend Puppies and Pancakes and 2 a.m. Pancakes (Yes, we really enjoy pancakes.). Be selective; find the study breaks that meet your needs and then make the time to attend them.


#10 Dining dollars

Never underestimate the power of snacks! This time of year lots of people have suddenly realized they have dining dollars left (by checking this website: and are frantically trying to spend them. Find a friend who is flush with dining dollars or be that friend and take a break from your studying to go get some mozzarella sticks or a quesadilla. Having a study break with a new or old friend who has dining dollars provides a nice break, a social opportunity and a snack all at once!


-Maddie O’Meara ’17 and Emily Howe’17

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