Oberlin Blogs

Finals: To Flourish or To Flop?

December 13, 2023

Kate Magnacca ’26

We have reached finals week-- yay. While my friends and I struggle our way through, I figured I’d write up my own little guide to pushing through to winter break.

Plan ahead

The biggest piece of advice I can give: work on your finals all semester! I got super lucky this semester, with almost all of my finals being projects we’ve intermittently worked on all year. In my feminist research methodologies course, we started talking about the final paper on day one. Our midterm was a preliminary draft of it. This meant I just had to revise that and expand it, rather than write all 10 pages at once. Not all classes are like this, but for the ones that do allow access to the final ahead of time, I beg you to use it (even if it isn’t technically due for a while). I didn’t take advantage of this last year, because I thought it was impractical to add even more to my existing weekly workload. I also thought-- wow! All of reading week and all of finals week! I’ll have so much time! To which I would now say: oh, sweet summer child, how stunningly naive you are. Those two weeks feel like the most insane time warp ever. Just trust me, start early-- it saves you so much pain later.

Campus Fun

The good thing about finals is that you’re not alone-- pretty much everyone on campus is feeling the strain of the busy season. The collective panic spawns a unique sort of “we’re all in this together” feeling. Study with your classmates, or your friends if that helps you. Go to the executive functioning sessions, the procrastination stations, the study breaks, all of it. They really are there for a reason, and they can be a lot of fun (and often have free food)! For example, the psychology department is having little study breaks with hot cocoa and cookies this week. My building (Baldwin) just had a cookie decorating party. The extra uptick in campus activity does give me a certain fondness for finals.


I won’t harp on this one, because we all know it by now. My personal go-to break activity is to watch Gilmore Girls and knit. It’s the perfect combination of mindlessness and movement for me. The sensory aspect of knitting really helps ground me in my body after spending too much time focused on an assignment. I also love a good reading break-- those are great because it’s easy to set a one-chapter limit. Sometimes, when I really need to leave my room, I go down the street to For Ewe. Maybe go to Ginko and pet some kittens, or take a walk in the Arb.

In the same vein, sometimes it can help to be productive in a different way. For example, while avoiding my English midterm I applied for about a million different internships. And then I actually got one! Yes, it was procrastinating, but in a way that wasn’t entirely unproductive, if that makes sense. Another example: I am writing this blog post because I do not want to write an essay. Procrastination and productivity, all in one! (Obviously proceed with caution, procrastination is not fun to contend with later so be responsible, and all that jazz.)

Make a nice work space

our lovely reading nook
my favorite study spot

I almost always prefer to work at home, so during busy weeks like this, we take extra care with our space. Yes, it requires a few minutes of tidying up in the mornings, but it’s worth it. This year, my most common work space is our reading nook. I cozy up with my heated blanket and laptop there, and it makes doing schoolwork far more pleasant. I also use my desk a lot, because I have one of those fun clacky keyboards (which is so fun to use, it motivates me more than anything else I’ve tried. Highly recommend). If you don't like to work at home, I think one of the most underrated spots on campus is the AJLC.

Office hours

PLEASE utilize these. It will help you so much, and show your professors that you care enough to put the extra effort in. 

Little treats

You deserve ‘em. Go use those flex dollars-- it’s the end of the semester anyway! Now’s the time!

If you're contending with finals, I wish you the best of luck. We're so close and I believe in you. If you're not, I envy you, please enjoy for those of us glued to our laptops.

See you on the other side (aka winter break)!

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