How Students Pull Through the Final Semester Stretch

The seasons change in a perfect cycle of inevitability, like the setting and rising of the sun and moon. During college, every semester brings new experiences, struggles, and growth. When the end of the fall semester approaches, it causes us to look back and see how to go about these few short weeks before winter break. Some students crack down studying for finals, and others do nothing at all. As it always has, and will, the real stories come from the students of Monmouth themselves.

Shannon Hood, a sophomore art major, said, “I’m just preparing myself mentally to face all of these finals that I have to take, really. Making sure that everything is in order and turned in on time.”

As the semester comes to a close, all students have to prepare for these exams, and find a balance between friends and work more than ever before. It takes a certain determination to push in those last few days to study, when a month-long vacation is just around the corner.

It’s not like sacrifices of enjoyment haven’t been made before. But entirely focusing on the end of a semester is menial and limited, the entirety of these four months have shaped students through each and every day. What’s been the influence this has had on students?

Hood continued, “The biggest thing I’ve learned this semester is probably time management, responsibility, and having a good balance of work and play.”

Hood’s plan for the semester’s end is mirrored in her experiences and what she’s learned. Education at the University level is about balancing pleasure and work, exactly like we will have to almost every day of our adult lives. It’s a testament to this new way of living and education, to entrust students with this newfound level of responsibility and independence, unlike high school. Because that’s what college is truly preparing us for, not finals or studying abroad, but the real world.

“I’m just studying as much as possible, but as for what I’ve learned, the most important thing is how subjects overlap in much the same way that world events and life experiences overlap all the time,” said Liz Roderick, a freshman psychology major.

This rings true, as the multilayered college experience is doing many things at once while we only take classes. By taking classes on a scheduled basis, we have to meet these deadlines and schedule ourselves in order to meet them. Everything is structured like an actual occupation, preparing students with skills and practices that they’ll use in their everyday lives.

“Everything is connected,” Roderick continued, “and I think that’s beautiful.”

For freshman and other students, finals represent the last hurdle of the semester, and can reveal if the student truly learned and worked  throughout the class. But through students’ actions at the end of the semester, one can see the growth and maturation that took place over the course of these few short months. Everyone, students and professors alike, grows just a little bit over the course of the semester. Just like in life, we are different people at the end of every term in our lives than we were at the start of it.

Noel Belinski, a lecturer of English, had some advice for students tackling the end of the semester and final exams. “I would suggest that students prepare for the end of the semester by reviewing their class notes and marginal notes in their texts and by asking questions regarding any unclear understanding of the material. Students can work together to review for examinations, or create note cards by which to study alone.”

“It is important to draft final papers well in advance of the due date, so as to have enough time to proofread carefully and to revise or enhance them. Writing Services in the Student Center is a great place to get support for composition concerns,” she added.

Belinski continued, “Additionally, it is important to get plenty of sleep, and to eat well. The last thing students need is to get run down at the end of the term.”

All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes, and that extends to semesters of college as well. For freshman, this was an experience like no other, their first foray into the world of university education. For upperclassmen, it was another installment into their college experience, bringing them a step closer to their eventual goals. And for seniors it was their last fall semester, the final time they’d see the leaves bear their autumn colors and see the campus through the first freezing rain of the season. The “college experience” isn’t limited by how many or how few semesters a student has been in, but by the quality of their time spent. And that, like so many other things, is what brings college students together as one.

PHOTO COURTESY of Victoria Keenan