Freshman Finals: Or Rather, Why My Planning Often Results In Disaster

Bianca Stelian The end of the school year typically comes with a boatload of emotions.  Sadness, relief, and anticipation are often in the mix, with some interesting ones like melancholy and desperation occasionally thrown in as well.  This fruit salad of feelings varies its components from grade to grade, with seniors being eager and sophomores nervous. This year, the freshman grade had a new emotion in their mix and it is the result of something that goes by the name of high school finals. Unfortunately, finals are a treat we have to consume this week and for three more years to come. As I sit here at my kitchen counter on a weary Sunday night, finishing off a chocolate-covered banana and absorbing the newly released episodes of Arrested Development– if you aren’t familiar with the show, I do apologize, as it’ll probably come up again– I think about these past months that have led up to the dreaded post-Memorial Day week of horrors. There was January, a quick transition from first to second semester, alerting us to never assume the first day after a vacation would be easy (thanks, Ms. Amusin); February, which, despite having the fewest days of the year, hit the freshmen with some of the most material and work we have ever experienced; March, a much-needed break from the daily grind and a chance to simply relax; April, with its unnaturally bitter, cold weather reflecting the attitudes of most of the students; and May, a disorienting contrast between the year winding down and stress levels increasing.  Undoubtedly, this stress can be attributed to a single major factor of our academic year: second semester finals. Like most of my grade, I underestimated the severity of what finals week would bring.  Over five months ago, during first semester finals, the majority of the freshman class had no more than two exams to take.  Classes like art, physics, and English were simply used as teaching periods during their assigned exam blocks.  It was with this optimism that the freshmen went into the second finals period, certainly expecting an increase in the amount of tests, yet not by much.  I believe it was with great shock that on that fateful May day that not one, not two, but seven of my teachers announced that the class would conclude with a final. Okay, okay, I suppose physics doesn’t really count, as we have a “test.” Upon seeing the exam schedule posted in what is known as the least-crowded place in the Latin School – the freshmen hallway, of course – my fate was sealed.  I was having seven finals. I went into this three-day weekend with a plan.  The hardest exams – and coincidentally, my first exams – would be Global Cities (damn you, whoever invented primary sources) and math (I’m also not a fan of whoever invented log.  Logs were meant to build rural colonial houses, not to be used to terrify high school students.)  Thus, I figured, I would study for these two on Saturday, and then my easier exams for the rest of the weekend.  This plan seemed foolproof.  Nothing could unhinge my path to success, and hopefully, Ms. Arif’s approval. Unfortunately, this weekend also marked the release of fifteen new episodes of a once-popular, incredibly smart TV show by the name of Arrested Development.  (Not to be confused with the early 90s hip hop group.  We’re legally obligated to make this distinction.)  Additionally inconvenient was that its release was at approximately 2am, Sunday morning.  Even more unfortunate of all is that, as the loyal fan that I am, I woke up early to jumpstart my watching.  Perhaps the most unfortunate of all is that right before I began studying for Global Cities (which I had put off from the day before), I decided to take a nap.  What should have been twenty minutes turned into three hours, and when I finally woke, I realized I had made a huge mistake– an incredibly important part of my studying had not been done.  Even worse, I was craving pizza and was not at all ready to sit down and analyze how Mexico City’s desire for wealth led to its destruction. Hoping to beat some reigning junior’s score on Facebook’s newly popular Candy Crush Saga, I spent the rest of the day consuming episode after episode of the TV show and switching candy beans with candy balls to earn points that did not even come close adding up to taking the lead in the game.  It is with a heavy heart that I sit here, spilling my thoughts onto this Word document, dreading tomorrow (Monday), which will be spent analyzing the ancient societies of Rome, Paris, and Mexico City, hoping to figure out any of them succeeded by using their ‘resources.’  You sly dogs, teachers – you used the most vague word possible on the prompt to allow for maximum confusion.  Bravo, history department.  Bravo. Hopefully, this derailed weekend of studying has taught me a lesson for next year.  I must block Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, and all other possible distractors until I am fully prepared for whatever exams I have.  TV shows can wait – my education can’t.  And, if you’re like me and you found that line incredibly cheesy, you can look forward to this fall when I will probably write a similar article recounting my predictably disastrous pre-first semester finals experience.  Until then, I bid you farewell, Forum readers, and hope that you all are having better experiences than I am.  If not, let this image decode the true meaning of finals week: incredible and unstoppable amounts of Netflix.    ]]>