During finals week, college students revert to a childlike state. Stress hits and the similarities with teething toddlers begin to emerge. Both groups wear pajamas all day. They seek counsel from their mothers. They cry when they’re uncomfortable, and when all else fails, a bottle usually does the trick.
If finals week, as with much of the college experience, is supposed to prepare students for handling stress in the “real world,” they’re facing a resounding failure. A busy workload should lead to better time-management and finding a good work-life balance. But whining is so much easier.
Unlike babies, college students can better articulate their complaints, especially via twitter. Posts about staying up all night, not showering or spending hours procrastinating become acceptable behavior under the umbrella excuse of finals week. Because of this “finals” is the new “yolo.” For example, here’s how a typical conversation during finals week might go:
“Hi Jane, how are you?”
“Fine. I was supposed to start my 20-page history paper last night, but instead I watched the entire first season of The Walking Dead on Netflix. Now I’m going to have to stay up all night to finish my paper and work on a presentation that’s due tomorrow. And I have a cold. I need coffee. Hashtag finals.”
In this example, Jane is wearing the same sweatpants from three days ago, has her hair in a bun on the top of her head and isn’t wearing make-up to enhance the dramatic affect. Why not exert the least possible amount of effort during finals week? You only live once.
Allowing this sort of babying to go on during finals week sets a bad precedent for jobs in the future. Five years down the road, Jane can’t show up to her boss’s office in sweats and ask for an extension on a big proposal because she hasn’t gotten enough sleep lately. And her co-workers aren’t going to appreciate when a reasonable amount of stress turns Jane into a crabby, flustered nightmare.
When a toddler fusses, people sympathize and want to help because the toddler hasn’t developed the ability to take care of him or herself yet. College students have. Writing a 20-page paper is hard, but so is teething. Stress cannot be a legitimate excuse for neglecting basic human responsibilities like hygiene or being nice to other people.
Instead of falling into the trap of wallowing in self-pity and procrastination, finals week should provide a chance to push oneself to manage schoolwork, extracurricular activities, socializing and personal needs. Finals would be easier to manage if students could be coddled like babies, but at some point, everyone needs to grow up.