5 Tips to Help You Survive Finals When All You Want is Summer

I’ve mentioned a few times that I go to a school on the quarter system, which is really great until the end of May. The worst part about being on the quarter system is that while all your friends at other schools are off enjoying the weather and reveling in the endless joy of summer, we are stuck taking finals. So I reached out to my friends to see what tricks they use to make it through these last couple weeks of school, and to bring you a comprehensive guide beating those “It Should Be Summer” Blues.

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1. Avoid Reminders of Summer While Studying

Its easy to let FOMO get you down during these weeks, especially when every other Snapchat Story is at the beach and your friends are posting cute bikini pictures on Instagram. That’s why third year Anna said to “get off of social media, it will only make you sad.” Not being on social media during finals week might keep you focused even longer, too.
If you’re easily distracted, it might be good for you to choose a study spot away from windows. My go-to spot in the library during the year is almost all windows, but during Spring Quarter finals, I always pick a spot that is a little more isolated like a cubicle or in the stacks. Second year Cathy takes this to the next level and studies in the basement of our library “to forget that warm weather exists.”

2. Get Outside for your Exercise

If you’re stuck in the library the rest of the day, then make sure you take some time to exercise outside. Making time to exercise during finals week is crucial for your mental health and it can be a great break from the crushing stress of finals.

First Year Kate plans to grab a friend and run or walk outside. Even if its just half an hour, working up a sweat can help you clear your mind and get you ready for the next 6 hour studying stint between meals (if you remember to eat).


3. Treat Yo’ Self to Little Things

If there was ever a week to splurge on some fancy coffee, it is spring quarter finals week. If your heart wants that extra caramel shot or the weird latte that Starbucks is rolling out that week, then let yourself have it. Later in finals week, you’ll probably need a coffee IV so be careful not to break the bank, but an extra dollar to make your morning feel special is worth it.
Second year Rebecca is her own cheerleader during finals week. “Sometimes I flip to finals week in my planner a few weeks early and write myself motivational messages there like “2 more days to go” or “you’re a rockstar!” so that when i turn to finals week in my planner the notes are there waiting for me,” she said.
Really good study snacks are essential to making it through the week. “When we were young and we would have a bad week, our mom would always stock up on our ‘happy snacks’ … and we can just eat them throughout the week,” says second year Aya, who still makes that all important trip to the supermarket in preparation for finals week.
Third year Chelsea uses her study snacks as an incentive to keep going. “I put Oreos in the pages of my reading or notes to encourage me to keep reading. Once I get to the page, I get to eat the Oreo.” On the other hand, second year Claire isn’t particular about which snack she has to rely on, but rather that she has some because you “can’t sleep if you’re chewing!”

4. Pick the Right Study Buddies

Who you sit next to in the library can make or break the quality of your study session. “You make some unexpected friends during finals week. Find vague acquaintances with a similar finals schedule to you, sit down next to them in the reg, and never leave their side,” says third year Sam. You will build a kind of vague camaraderie through your mutual suffering.
Third year Sylvia recommends working “with someone who will hit you every time you get distracted.” In the past, I’ve found this to be wildly effective. This person will also generally be willing to keep your phone from you.
Fourth year (almost graduate!) Katherine has refined her study buddy system over the years. “I partner with a few chemistry friends and we teach each other the parts of the material that we understand and we always make sure to ask dumb questions when the other is teaching. If you can teach it to someone else, it reinforces your understanding. We also write everything out together on white boards so that we can think through it together.” 

5. Study Anywhere But the Library

The weekend before finals, I find the library gets unbearably crowded so I try to take one of those days to go downtown and study in a coffee shop. Getting out of the bubble of stress on campus is a really good mental break for me. One of the things I miss most from home is having an accessible Panera, so I make sure that the coffee shop I choose is close enough to a Panera so I can split my study time between them evenly.

There is also a coffee shop a couple blocks north of my apartment with horrible wifi which I find makes me wildly productive. The food is delicious and I stay focused three or four times as long. This is especially important if, for example, your little got you hooked on Friends and you can’t stop binge watching it.

First years Andrea and Melanie go downtown for brunch, and then go to a coffee shop afterwards. Making time for friends before summer is so important, especially the ones that are going abroad in the fall, and scheduling that into your studying time is the best way to do it all.


Special thanks to all my wonderful friends for procrastinating their studying by giving me their tips!

Are there any we missed? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Strong and Good luck with finals!

Xoxo, Rosana

Hello! My name is Rosana Rabines! I'm a student, stationery enthusiast, and runner constantly reorganizing my life to make the most of my college experience in Chicago.

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