As a seasoned super senior, one might expect me to know all of the ins and outs of finals week. I’m coming up on my ninth and last finals week, so I should be an expert by now, right?

Wrong. I’m not. Finals week is stressful no matter what year you’re in or which classes you’re taking. That being said, I have figured out several stress-relieving strategies that make things a little easier, and I’m going to share them with you in the hopes that you will feel more confident going into finals week with some useful tools.

  • Find an adequate study location.  This is perhaps the most important step in the finals week process.  Studying at home or in the dorms is filled with potential distractions, so it is best to go somewhere else if you have the option. Since the library is the go-to study location for most, it fills up quickly.  The sheer amount of people in the library causes extra stress for some, and finding a secluded study room is nearly impossible (if you want one, now is the time to reserve). I recommend finding another location on or off campus. The Starbucks location on campus is a great place; coffee is available so that makes it even better. The Point is awesome too and if you’re over 21, you can reward your studies with a beer. Off-campus locations are more likely to be quieter. There are several great coffee shops in town at which to study, including two other Starbucks locations, Roasted, or Kiln Coffee Bar. My personal favorite is Kiln, which is relatively new and somewhat unknown to students.  It is typically silent and well-lit and, of course, sells caffeine-filled drinks.
  • Make and keep a study schedule. This is especially important for students with jobs outside of school. Having so much work and studying to do with limited time feels overwhelming, but keeping a strict schedule makes the week seem less intimidating.  You may want to start now in order to build up your knowledge base over the next month before finals. Don’t forget to add sleep time to your schedule; it’s just as important as active studying for information retention!
  • Study in groups with people from class.  It is a well-known fact that the ability to teach and discuss the content that you are learning is extremely beneficial to remembering the information later and fosters the ability to think critically about a given topic. Groups can also encourage members to stay focused and avoid the distractions that often come with studying alone. With someone keeping tabs on you, you’re less likely to open up YouTube every thirty minutes or so, and you might find yourself able to study for a longer period of time.
  • Listen to music. Each individual has different music preferences, but it is important to find a genre or playlist that isn’t distracting. It helps to find music without lyrics, since words intrude on your line of thought. I recommend going on Spotify or Pandora and finding a playlist or station full of relaxing or “chill” music, which will keep you calm instead of stressing about your lack of time and knowledge. Psychological research exists that suggests a correlation between listening to music during study and success in focusing and retaining information, so plug in those headphones and hone in on your homework!
  • Reward yourself. You can do this in many ways, and each individual’s reward system will be different. If you’re a foodie, buy yourself a nice dinner after a particularly difficult final. If you’ve spent 12 hours engulfed in your books, allow yourself an hour-long bubble bath at the end of the night. Buy yourself a drink (or several) to ease the suffering! Or, if you’d rather save up for a big reward at the end of the week, gift yourself a trip to the Hot Springs for a day or weekend-long relaxation session with friends or family. Don’t forget your daily reward for self-care and a positive attitude!

Finals week will be here before you know it. Keep these tips in mind, prepare yourself early and may the odds be ever in your favor.  

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