Final Frenzy: Two seniors offer advice on finishing finals

It’s that time of the semester again — the time of the semester each student loathes, when studying, final projects and exams consume his or her life. This single week can determine the future of one’s entire college career and future. With so much hinging on this final week of the semester, two seniors offer advice to those struggling with getting through.

 

Name: Rachael Althof
Transfer student from San Diego to UAA in 2011
Journalism and Communications senior

TNL: How many credits are you taking this semester?
Althof: I usually take 15 per semester. I would be graduating at the end of this semester, but UAA said I still needed upper division credits, so I will be graduating spring 2014 — which is fine, because now I don’t have to wait six months to walk had I graduated in the fall. I can go straight from my finals to walking on that shiny wooden floor in cap and gown.

Do you have finals in all of your classes?
Yes. I don’t believe I was ever lucky enough to not have a final in any of my classes during my college career. I envy those who have that magical ability.

How do you study for final exams?
Let’s be honest. I don’t really study, per se. I know that sounds horrible, but for someone like me who works full time and takes 15 credits a semester. I don’t have time to study. I wish I did. If I had more time, I feel I would learn at a greater depth that would be more appreciative (sic) than how I’ve been studying the past few years. I have learned that I have to make the most of what I get out of class, because I just won’t have time later to re-learn something I missed.

What is your strategy to get all of your final projects done?
Honestly, Redbull and not sleeping. Seriously. It’s a terrible thing to say, but that’s how I’ve managed to work full time and take 15 credits each semester, all the while holding a 3.4 GPA as a senior. When school and projects start to stress me out, my boyfriend always has to remind me to “focus at the task at hand; this is only a temporary discomfort. The further you get today, the closer you’ll be to your end goal.” He graduated with his master’s in business from UAA in 2009.

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What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you during finals?
I remember the very first time I took Statistics of Sociology in San Diego. I got to class and realized I didn’t have a Scantron. I was on my way to the bookstore to get some, and a kid who was sitting next to me asked if he could borrow my calculator while I went to the bookstore. Class hadn’t started yet, and so I agreed. Upon returning, the door was locked, the professor decided to start the final five minutes early, and I was locked outside holding nothing but my Scantron. The lucky student who had my calculator was able to take the test, and I couldn’t. By the time he was finished and tried to return my calculator, I only had 15 minutes left of the class, and there was no way I could finish the test in time. I wound up failing the class because it was one of the only two tests the professor offered. I like to believe I was a victim of the ol’ bait and switch.

What is the best thing that has ever happened to you during finals?
An art professor asked if she could keep one of my art pieces to display in the department. She said it was one of her personal favorites and felt it needed to be displayed for other students.

What advice would you give to freshmen who are taking their first finals this semester?
Set aside time to study, and don’t be afraid to ask your professors for clarification or extra help. Professors have office hours for a reason, and they are meant to help you. If you are not seeing your professors about help outside of class, then frankly you are limiting yourself. Professors want to help you. And it shows them that you are committed to learning and they respect and appreciate students who are willing to learn.

What advice would you give to professors about how to present finals/final projects?
My number-one pet peeve is when professors give students a study guide but test on material not on the study guide or material never covered in class. I have been fortunate to pick professors who do not do this, since going to Ratemyprofessors.com changed my academic career thus far.

Is there anything different you wish the university would do to make finals easier?
Free coffee and discounts on snacks and food items. Students need to eat, and it would be helpful if for this week only, the food and snacks are discounted to ensure students can perform at their best.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about dealing with finals?
I think it is very important to take breaks. It might sound silly, but I have found that steamrolling the homework and studying for hours on end will only set you up for failure. Taking small breaks of 15-30 minutes at a time to regroup and organize your thoughts has worked best for me, especially these last two semesters. I compare it to eating a piece of ginger in between pieces of sushi. The ginger is used to cleanse the palate, so you can taste the next piece without the lingering after taste from previous pieces.

 

Name: Nancy Alicia Halla
Journalism and Communications senior

TNL: How many credits are you taking this semester?
Halla: I’m taking 13 credits this semester. It’s my final semester!

Do you have finals in all of your classes?
I have something due for four of the five classes. Two of them required actual finals, and three of them require projects, which stretched over a few months. One (professor) wanted both.

How do you study for final exams?
It depends on the exam. This semester, the finals were online and open-book, so most of my prep was in a study group or reviewing notes before I hunker down and crunch out the finals.

What is your strategy to get all of your final projects done?
In order to get all my final projects done. I have to prioritize by deadline and how long I need to finish each one. I start with a plan and take it day by day, or else I get too overwhelmed.

What is the best thing that has ever happened to you during finals?
In the past, the worst was realizing I didn’t budget enough time and earned myself a poor grade, which affected my GPA. This semester, I’m in my first trimester of pregnancy, in the middle of fighting off a serious cold—on top of having to work right before I had to finalize everything, and finding my body has to rest when I need that time to finish school. I am more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens me, so I will succeed in my endeavors.

What is the best thing that has ever happened to you during finals?
One of the best things to happen to me during past finals was getting engaged. I also love when professors give us a break on additional assignments in order to prepare for the final.

What advice would you give to freshmen who are taking their first finals this semester?
Breathe! Work from most important to least. Though a failed class may cost your some bucks, it is not the end of the world. Stressing only makes things worse and keeps you from concentrating. Don’t burn out, but don’t play too much.

What advice would you give to professors about how to present finals/final projects?
Thank you to the professors who make the final clear at the beginning of the semester. It helped me when I knew what form of test or project it was, had a timeline and a study guide or rubric.

Is there anything different you wish the university would do to make finals easier?
To make finals easier? Well, I wish I didn’t have to take five and six classes at a time, but I will play their game in exchange for a formal degree.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about dealing with finals?
I really like what the “Late Nights in the SU” (Student Union) has become. That was a Godsend some nights for several semesters.