I was talking with my friend Mike last night about the psychological effects of an education system which places such a high value on final exams and papers. I do not necessarily disagree with this methodology, but it does have some interesting side effects come finals week. Particularly in the ten-week quarter system, I have found that finals week comes really quickly. Take the speed through which you move through the quarter, multiply it between three or four classes, and you have some massively stressed out folks.
It is not healthy and it is not sustainable. But, it sure feels good when it’s all over.
There is nothing like printing the final page on your final term paper or handing in your final exam to the prof and walking out of that classroom.
If you haven’t done so before, hang out on Fuller’s campus between 4 and 5 PM on Friday afternoon. You will see students racing from their apartments to campus with papers in hand, sweat pouring off their brow and tears flowing from their eyes. You will see stress and anxiety like you have never seen before.
And then the papers get turned in. You will see the same people are walking in the opposite direction. They may have a quirky little smile on their face (they do not know they are smiling). They may look intoxicated (they are not). They may look like they are about to fall asleep (they have not slept in days).
You are witnessing the finals high.
It is what makes post-secondary education worthwhile. The feeling of working hard at something for 10 or 15 weeks and having it all culminate in 15 pages of paper stapled together and then giving that labor of love away and joyfully recognizing that you will never have to think about it again. The pressure is off, it is no longer in your hands. These students will wake up the next morning, frantically worried that they need to keep working on their paper only to realize that they are finished. The final high sets in again.
The high lasts for a few days. Sometimes a week. Until the next term begins, and the process begins all over again.
I plan to have two more of these in my life. One will be tomorrow afternoon, and another in 12 weeks or so. I look forward to it.