Campus News

Midterms are Just Around the Corner

October 15, 2014
Marvin Krislov
Photo credit: John Seyfried

Can it be that midterms are just around the corner? Where did the first half of this semester go? While the academic years always fly by at Oberlin, this one seems to be flying at record speed.

And with midterms comes stress. Everyone is in a hurry. Study spaces in Mudd are filling up fast. The collective anxiety level on campus is rising. Late and even later nights are the norm as students work on papers and projects, and prepare for exams.

So…..wait for it…those of you who have been here for more than a year know where I’m going, right?

Please, please, or to quote Harvey Keitel’s character “Winston Wolf,” from the film Pulp Fiction, “pretty please with sugar on top……,” take care of your mental and physical health. This is especially important during times like these when stress levels are increasing.

There are a range of stress-relieving activities and resources available through your class deans, the Dean of Student’s Office, and the health service. Remember to take breaks, even if they’re brief.

Exercise is good. I can attest to that from personal experience. Getting the blood flowing and increasing your oxygen intake helps clear the mind and relax the body. A brisk walk, some yoga postures, or 10 minutes playing Frisbee can help relieve pressure and stimulate your thinking.

Allow me to offer some advice to those of you writing papers. If you have what you think is the final draft, you may feel like turning it in immediately. Unless it is urgently due, I suggest you wait.

Give yourself a break. Get up from your desk or study carrel. Take a walk. Ride your bike. Go to the gym. Or grab a bite to eat. And while you’re doing whatever you do, congratulate yourself on finishing the draft.

Then go read it again. Check the content for accuracy and relevance. Check that you didn’t leave out pertinent information. Check that your conclusions are supported by the facts you’ve marshaled. Check the text for spelling and syntax. Look for needless words and repetitive sections. Make sure your writing is clear and concise. If you find things that need fixing, fix them. I think you’ll find a few things which can be improved, and that your paper will be as a result even better.

I wish all our students the best of luck with their midterms. And I wish everyone safe travels and a great fall break.

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