In the eye of the academic storm

Thanksgiving misled you. The extended weekend gave you a taste of rest, and you’re finding it difficult to bounce back.

Last week we had a four-day weekend and most of us leisurely plucked hors d’oeuvres into our mouths throughout the day, broke food records at the dinner table and continued with sampling (and continually re-sampling) desserts well into the night. Perhaps even some of us felt rested by the end of the weekend.

We shared what we are grateful for and snuggled ourselves in the compliments we exchanged with our friends and family members — “I’m so thankful to know you.” “No, I’m the lucky one.” “We barely know each other, but you’re the best nephew/second cousin/estranged relative I could ask for.”

But the mutual admiration society is over. Even with the relaxing (for some of us) family time, we were all still running a lengthy to-do list through our minds — that 17-page paper, that intimidating Powerpoint presentation, that article analysis. You questioned, “Would it be rude to bow out of the ninth round of Jenga to go finish some required reading?” and “How could the Fates have decided I would have three finals in one day?”

The big assignments are not due quite yet, but they’re circling around and you know they’re going to come barreling down soon.

What we want: sleep, pecan pie, maybe even leftover rutabagas, but definitely more sleep. What we need: a surge of focus, motivation and good grades.

For those who have everything under control and are free of pre-final jitters, caps off to each of you.

But for those who are not in that crowd: Instead of fantasizing about that moment you turn in your last final and walk out of the musty classroom into the semi-fresh Tempe air, plan out what you have to get done at the end of each day to feel better for the next. Masterminding daily goals will distract you from the looming assignment-monsters and deadline-ogres that hover over your shoulder while you’re starting a project and hunker down underneath your desk while you’re sleeping.

Academia is scary. But it doesn’t have to be that scary.

The most frightening of all that is associated with finals: all nighters. Heads-up, they’re not worth it. Let’s avoid the slouchy zompocalypse-chic look that usually takes over campus right before and during finals. Look alive. Look rested. This doesn’t mean double-fist energy drinks and espresso shots. This means go to sleep at night. The State Press doesn’t want to be your mom, but it does want students and faculty to not resemble the undead.

The rest is obvious — eat healthy, go for walks, take deep breaths and don’t feel guilty to “Treat yo self” as Tom and Donna from “Parks and Rec” recommend.

When grades are turned in and all is said and done, invite your friends over immediately to resume that mutual admiration society from Thanksgiving. Hopefully you earned it.

But for now, don’t let the calm before the storm deceive you. Get ready for it.

Mary Richardson is editor-in-chief of State Press Magazine.


Reach the writer at or follow her at @MG_Richardson


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