Quite Frankly

Hey Frankie,
I’m overwhelmed. I have way too many finals. Why do professors think it’s alright to give two finals each? Don’t they realize that everyone’s gonna do that? What? Help.
Sincerely, Finals Fumbler

Dear Fumbler,

Quite frankly, yeah, what? In my four plus semesters at Vassar, I’ve noticed that our professors fall on a spectrum with two possible endpoints: extremely willing to adapt to what their students need, and totally committed to a syllabus that they know represents a nigh-impossible workload. Some profs manage to, like, somehow amalgamate those viewpoints in interesting and terrifying ways. It sounds like you might have gotten an unfortunate set of professors who lean to the “impossible workload” end.

So I suppose the question here is twofold. First, where do your professors fall on this spectrum? Second, do you seek commiseration or a solution?

If your professors lean toward the first genus, you already know what you have to do. Ask for an extension. AsK fOr SeVeRaL ExTeNsIoNs. ~~extensions~~.

It’s not a dirty word. They want you to succeed! Take the proffered helping hand—your professors, after all, were once overworked undergrads.

If the second, try not to panic (not useful, I know). You have to take this finals thing one step at a time. Mark dates on your calendar, set small goals and acquire tunnel vision. This might not be pretty, but you’re going to get through this. Enlist a friend to periodically deliver snacks to the room you’re holed up in.

If you want commiseration, here it is: We are all suffering, deeply. Human companionship in this time of trial will likely benefit you, but make sure you don’t spend so much time venting to friends that you eat into work time.

If you want my solution: It’s all about time management and realistic self-expectations. You’re not an essay-writing, lab-doing machine. You’re a human being, and you have needs, not least of which is basic self-care and moving your body from one place to another at least a few times a day. Carve out reasonable blocks of time, at most a few hours, in which to narrow your focus, shut out the world and work. Try to plan out your assignments before you dive in, so they don’t take up endless time as you fly by the seat of your pants and discover your thesis along the way.

No matter what you need to hear this finals season, there’s one universal assurance I can offer you: Come the 20th of December, we’ll all be through this.

Best wishes, Frankie

P.S. Even President Bradley is suffering because of finals; it was in between the lines of the Sunday email

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