Crunch Time, AKA Cancel Your Life

I’m republishing this December 4, 2010 post from the Pondering the Classroom archives.  It is still relevant.

Fall semester is winding down in the USA. We are past the stages of “Reaching our stride,” mid-terms, “Finally getting the hang of it,” and “Running out of time.” We are not yet at the stages of “The end is near,” or “It’s all over but the shouting.” Crunch time starts with a little less than two weeks of class remaining before final exams.

Crunch time is a stressful, pressure packed time for college students and professors alike. IMO there is too much stress, too much pressure. Neither students nor faculty are particularly fragile, but it is called crunch time for a reason.

After four years of undergraduate crunch times, students will be transfigured for life. Last week in a local coffee shop, a middle-aged woman admitted that she still had nightmares about final exams. Her most recent: being 30 minutes late and still unable to locate the room of the exam. Yikes! She never missed a test in her life, but still has fear. I occasionally have that same dream.

Crunch time is no fun for students. Homework still needs to be completed, lessons learned, pre-final tests crammed for and taken, major term papers and projects written and turned in. There is too much to do, too little time to do it in, and no one wants to fail.

Other profs provide the most sarcastic advice: “Start earlier next time.”

I try to be helpful, “Cancel your life.” You need to be focused and study every available minute of the day. A lot of things can slide. Here are three.

You no longer have time for laundry. As long as classes are still in session, apply the smell test to clothes. Smell test? If unlaundered clothes don’t smell of body odor, they are ok to wear. Near the end of final exam week, though, clothes are allowed to reek. Hint 1: hanging up dirty clothes to let them air out will get another day of wear. Hint 2: use copious amounts of spray and wash when the day finally arrives.

You no longer have time to wash dirty dishes, pots and pans. Fast food is now part of the food pyramid. Because we live in an age of vermin, you never want to let garbage pile up, as in this picture:

Hint 1: Huge burritos are a nutritious fast food meal. Hint 2: caffeine negatively impacts cognition. Hint 3: Your apartment has an automatic dishwasher. Use it. If you eat at home, paper plates and plastic silverware were made for times like this.

You no longer have time to watch TV. Hint: Watch favorite shows on Hulu when finals are over.

Do you have any crunch time advice? Leave a comment.

– – by David Albrecht

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