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Students Approach Finals in Different Ways

Published Tuesday, December 07, 2021
From left: Katie Medford, Kharmen Saysirisanh, Autumn Sander
From left: Katie Medford, Kharmen Saysirisanh, Autumn Sander

Finals. It’s a word that strikes fear in the hearts of many Southwest Minnesota State University students.

It’s almost that time again. Class assignments, large  projects, exams, and due dates all creep up quickly. Balancing school alongside work commitments, a social life, and other responsibilities are a few of the many stressors college students are faced with at the end of the fall semester.  

“You live on a floating rock, nothing is as big as you’re making it out to be,” said Kharmen Saysirisanh, a senior Communications Studies major. Her methodology in getting through finals week involves classical music, writing, and doing homework in her free time. “I find myself doing my best work under pressure, so studying isn’t what makes finals week stressful.” 

Katie Medford, a junior Educational Studies major, is stressed more about actually taking tests than studying for finals. “I love my color-coordinated calendar, it helps keep me organized throughout the week,” she said. Her courses this semester are major-specific classe, so she finds the “harder” courses easier to handle when it's time to take tests.  

Autumn Sander, a senior Agricultural Communications and Leadership major, has a study routine. Comfy clothes, good coffee, and a quiet environment with flashcards are her ideal study session set-up. In her major, the tests are take-home with short answer questions rather than multiple-choice.  

Ben Emrich is a senior Environmental Science and Criminal Justice major, who balances school, sports and finals at the same time. He enjoys listening to music —  nothing too catchy — while studying. The mindset he has during finals can be summed up in one word: balance. “Don’t get too caught into the cycle, just take a step back and it will all be okay,” he said.

Each agrees that finals are stressful, but managing your time is the best way to take on that daunting task. Procrastination, as always, is a common theme, but all say that being organized throughout the semester is key to a successful finals week.  

For them, projects and papers are also the preferred final format, versus the typical tests. Saysirisanh said that “It’s easier to spend time working and presenting projects than stressing over multiple choice tests.” The students found that starting early in finals prep is something that helped — a lot. Ensuring that you have enough time to study at your own pace is imperative, they agreed.

The best spots to study, they feel, are the library and the coffee shop. Each of these location’s amenities are essential to a satisfying study environment.

Sometimes taking a step back — taking a break, a breath — is the best thing for your mental health. Saysirisanh is the captain of the dance team and Emrich is on the wrestling team, and both feel those pursuits are stress relievers during the craziness of finals week. Sanders enjoys going hunting, and Medford likes going out to eat with friends.

Doing things that make you happy during finals week will keep your happy, they all agree, and create a better mindset throughout the final week.

It’s a stressful time for all SMSU students. But each has learned how to navigate finals, based on their individual study habits.

Good luck in Finals Week Mustangs!