6 Simple, Effective Ways to Survive Finals

If I could, I would go home for finals: let my mom cook me dinner every night, study at our big granite counter and let the sun pour in from the windows, all while listening to the Red Sox game from a reasonable distance. Unfortunately, that’s not really possible, so I’ve had to find other ways to get through the most ridiculous week ever. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

1. Dress Up.Yeah, you heard me. Whenever I have a monster of a paper to finish, I put on a cute outfit, wear an appropriate amount of makeup, and tackle that thing. My go-to item is a fun lipstick that makes me feel oh-so-pretty but isn’t over the top. I also give myself a little manicure before I begin typing papers – there is nothing more satisfying that perfectly painted hot-pink fingers flying across the keyboard! It’s been proven that making yourself appear successful – literally, “dressing for success” – translates into a more positive attitude and more positive results. Okay so I made that up. But it’s always worked for me! And more friends than I can count on two hands. No one feels like they can take on the world in sweatpants. Even if they’re Juicy.

Motivation can sometimes come in strange forms. Like Dior mascara.

2. Drink water. Coffee is great to a certain point, but once it hits 8 – 9 pm, I stick with my affectionately decorated Sigg water bottle. It’s better to hydrate. And it kind of makes you feel like you’re running a marathon – which is exactly what you’re doing.

3. Find the fun. I don’t mean that you should crack open a PBR in the library, or blend margaritas while everyone is trying to study. What I mean is, find the positivity. My school’s finals week turns into a sort of slumber party: we only have 1 library, so most students are there, suffering in mutual silence, eating piles of food, and bouncing between their cubicles and the Grind (short for “The Daily Grind”, our convenience store/Starbucks/smoothie stand). It’s kind of like a sleepover, only with lots of homework.

4. Treat yourself to the little things. Not a Ferrari. More like, some strawberry ice-cream or a school-themed sweatshirt from the campus store to cozy up in as you write that paper. Or maybe a new coffee mug, an at-home pedicure, or a couple of good pump-up songs on iTunes. Haley swears by new, fun-colored pens. Simple things. Those are the ones that count!


5. Do something mindless – anything – for at least 30 minutes in between projects/before you go to bed. One of my housemates told me that when she helped out with math research, they were required to watch 30 minutes of mindless television before going to bed. Proof that the Kardashians are healthy for our brains!! I’m kidding. But seriously, the only way I can get through heavy political science and philosophy papers is by letting myself watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert before I crash and dream about Socrates and Plato. Running is also great for this, especially when combined with aforementioned mindless TV. Even better, buy some coloring books. I kid you not. Every semester, right in the middle of finals week, our school has “Midnight Breakfast” – read: eggs, bacon, french-toast sticks, and more donuts than you could ever imagine. And part of the festivities is sitting there, with your mountains of donuts, and coloring Disney princesses until your mind has been erased of all academic thoughts. It’s amazing. As I am writing this, my best friend is sitting next to me blowing bubbles. That’s what you get at a liberal arts college, I suppose. I wonder if blogging counts…

6. Make a playlist…or a kick-ass Pandora station. So my paper-writing music consists of the same music I usually work out to. Yup. I listen to Britney Spears and Lady Gaga while writing papers. With massive headphones that I stole from my dad. I get in the zone, get amped up and ready to be all scholarly, and go at it. I can’t even explain how helpful it is. I usually make one and title it “SURVIVAL MODE” or something kind of ridiculous like that, so I laugh a little when I press the play button. If you’re not familiar with Pandora, you should become best friends with it. It’s an online radio station (minimal ads, I promise) that allows you to select an artist/song/genre that you like, and then it automatically plays songs related to your selection. I have about 20 different stations, but my favorite at the moment is the Lykke Li station I started for finals week: it’s kind of relaxing, but a little fun and upbeat and quirky so I don’t fall asleep. And it’s free! Grooveshark is a similar site that allows you to create playlists out of songs; it’s basically iTunes, but it’s free and you don’t have to pay for anything.

That is an A+ student. Definitely.


Play-Doh, bubbles, crayons
Brightly colored pens/pencils/highlighters to make note-taking fun!
Her go-to Pandora station is her “the Who” station – oldies but goodies, she says. I say they’re timeless! Plus, as Haley puts it, “Listening to American Pie and writing political science…” well, they just go together.


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