The masochistic passion of the college student.

Both of my finals today came in one gigantic block. Eleven thirty to five, with a few blissful hours in between to eat and stare aimlessly at a computer screen in a futile effort to study for the monster that was coming next. This lasted for all of a half an hour, and then I veered off into Christmas planning (and it’s because of this that the next post come Thursday will likely be the Broke Ass post), and it all went downhill from there.

This happened just about every time I took a shot at studying for these tests. I knew most of the material, and I knew that I knew it. The rest of the blanks I attempted to fill in, and got the sense that I had to leave it at that. If I knew it, I knew it. Obsessing wasn’t going to get me anywhere. And the more I tried to cram, the more likely it’d be that I’d shove out something I’d need for later.

In short, I hardly studied.

This time, it’s not even a matter of asking; I know I’m not the only one who does this. At the second final I even listened to one guy giggle to his friends with a helpless sort of amusement about how he’d taken his political science final on three hours asleep, half awake and with what I imagine was a sting of drool dangling from the right corner of his mouth. There was another girl obsessively flipping flash cards that had one word on the sized, and an essay sized definition on the other. Others were joking (but not really) about ways that they could get out of the test; everything from breaking each other’s arms, to dead dogs, to sudden fits of insanity.

I got to my first final a few minutes before it started, so I didn’t hear anything like this happening then. But I’m sure there was something similar was going on there too.

What does make me curious is what drives us to this sense of “It’s all going to be just fine!” or “We’re all going to hell, but maybe a few more flash cards will save us!”. It’s either psychotic nihilism, or acute onset mental diarrhea. (By the way, one student offered up a joke (but not really) excuse that she couldn’t take the final, because she’d get anxiety induced diarrhea. There was a good laugh. A nice long one.) I’ve gone through both forms (Not the anxiety induced diarrhea, I promise.), it varies from year to year. This is not me being proud of not being properly studious, but I can’t help the curiosity, and that means being honest about me.

We’ve dealt with these classes all year, and we know what’s expected of us. In fact, P.L. (for Philosophy Lady) enjoyed quite thoroughly making it clear in the form of exam-esque study guides where we’d have to write small essays in order to answer each question offered, instead of just giving us the information straight out on the page. S.L. (Sixties Lady) also provided study guides, but with what’d actually be on the exams. There is no flying blind. Our eyes are free and clear.

So where’s the mental disconnect when these big tests come around?

Maybe we think there’s just no point in trying. Maybe we think that we slam all that information in our heads at the last minute, and through this forcible stockpiling of names and dates and craziness, then we’ll create a chemical reaction and develop an eidetic memory.

I don’t know, but while I cringe at myself, I can’t help but giggle at the pain of others. And maybe, just maybe, my giggles hold that strained note of nerves too.

Ah, college.


~ by Sara on December 20, 2011.

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