Offbeat Academia: For once, take helpful advice for finals week prep

Sarah Sanders advises students to prepare for finals week as they would for any social situation – using good morals and, more importantly, common sense.

“The finals are coming! The finals are coming!” the well-known American character Paul Revere shouted as he rode his galloping bicycle throughout Temple’s Main Campus.

You probably didn’t learn that in your middle school history classes, but since 1775, it is this patriot who has warned us of cumulative exams approaching at the end of every semester.

Anyway, my point is clear: we are drawing ever closer to the dreaded finals this December.

If you read a magazine or any article oriented toward college kids, the authors will tell you all about good study habits, how to prioritize your work and party time or how to cope with below-par reading environments.

You’ll hear all about how to prepare: get enough sleep, don’t drink so much, do a little bit everyday and on and on. It’ll be coming from all sides: parents, friends and teachers. Even your books and your computer will be beckoning you to stay with them.

I’m not even going to touch on that. I’ve never been a fan of preaching to the choir. Plus, I’m a student myself – why would I want to give and receive the same dull and regurgitated advice?
Besides, I think we’re more prepared than others think. We deal with tests like this daily – even bigger than the academic finals we endure every year. And we know how to train ourselves for them. It’s all a matter of applying ourselves. Use what we learn outside the university.

Usually, I know when to say ‘no’ because I have to get up early, I have a lot of work to do or it’s only noon. I encounter the same moral dilemma when it comes down to a personal decision – whether to be selfish or to be selfless, that is the question (and I think a more difficult one than the differences in scientific approach between Charles Darwin and Edward Jenner).

I’m glad my grades don’t depend on my ethics.

When a man knocked on my door, for example, on a Friday night and asked I give him and his buddy a few dollars for repainting the house numbers on the sidewalk along the entire block, sure, I had a couple bills in my pocket, and sure it was cold outside.

But I didn’t ask them to do this favor for me, so I shouldn’t be held responsible for its compensation. Call me ugly, but you should know our number was the only one painted incorrectly (while the rest of our block is 19-something, we’re in an alternate universe at 1209).

Another big worry for college kids is being able to study or being able to absorb the information we learn in class and recall it during an exam. You may be thinking: “I just can’t remember all these people, facts and theories. How does this professor expect me to pass this test?” But you can remember and you can prepare yourself – you prove this in other aspects of your life.

Usually, when I’m preparing myself for a meeting with a figuratively distant friend, I make sure to read up on our letters of correspondence. I’m literally studying for social interaction. And I’m sure you’ve prepped for an inevitable argument before.

Before I went home for Thanksgiving break, I made sure to have my facts straight and my morals and dignity mentally intact because I knew I was going to face opposition (plus, who doesn’t love telling their grandparents why they don’t wear deodorant?). So if you can still rattle off President-elect Barack Obama propaganda to sour Republicans, why can’t you remember all your Spanish business vocabulary?

We deal with real-life situations frequently enough to overcome multiple-choice. Let’s utilize our developed problem solving skills.

How else could you have gotten away with stealing alcohol from your parents while they’re in the room?

Sarah Sanders can be reached at

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