It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

As you may have noticed, there has been a bit of a dearth of posts on the blog as of late. The reason?

Finals.

The members of the Olin College class of 2011 have sent in their deposits, eagerly looking forward to going to our engineering bubble. They are (hopefully) excited; at this time last year I was hanging on every word about Olin. Yet, this is when we have said the least, and I apologize for that.

I might as well take the opportunity to talk about finals here. Now, as a freshman, I've only been through this end-of-the-semester deal once before, and that was back in the day of Pass/No Record. I'm in it full swing this year, though, and it certainly is something. Finals aren't necessarily consistent across the board. One class might call for just an exam, another for a project, and another for both. Throw in an art project and portfolio and you have basically my last chunk of time. The saving grace of this period of sleep-deprivation and overheated brains is that the projects that I'm doing are interesting.

Plus it helps that the end of classes means a giant carnival.

In any case, how do we deal? Olin work at any given point in the semester is tough. Looking at my whiteboard full of assignments that are nearly due, I almost wanted to cry. How would I ever get it done? Technically I still haven't, so I guess I don't have 100% certainty that my conclusions are correct, but I'll give it a shot.

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Yes, you were probably valedictorian at your high school, but everyone else is smart too. It's okay to not know everything. I had a hard time dealing with this at first, and I think a lot of people do. The environment at Olin is purposely non-competitive just so that we can learn how to work with others. Need help? Ask, and someone will.
  • Sleep. Sometimes it seems like staying up all night will help you get more done, but finals are a bit different. These projects aren't things you can do in one night. Maybe the last night will be a sleepless one, but you'll be far more productive in the final week if you're getting at least close to the amount of sleep that you should. Naps are your friend.
  • Plan and prioritize. Write everything out and see what needs to be done first, what will take the most time, etc. If you're organized, you can figure out when other people will be working on that same problem set. It's a lot nicer to get things out of the way in the order that they're due, so you don't have to deal with that crunch.
  • Reward yourself. Sometimes you need a sanity break. The carnival will be awesome on Friday, but smaller breaks can help a lot with your productivity, provided that you keep them short. Maybe you'll just go out to the lounge to talk to people, or maybe you'll go out to the swing in Parcel B. Don't wear yourself out for a week straight.
  • Remember that everything will be done in the end. Whether or not you do the absolute best job on that project, in the end it will be due. Thinking about finals not as this long list of tasks, but instead a time period, can definitely help make it feel more manageable.

That's basically it. Finals stink, but you can make it through. And in the end, you might just have a giant bouncy castle show up on your front lawn.

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