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Finals are over.

Finals are over and like every semester I wonder what on earth I was thinking. Who knew that it could be that challenging to take a full load of chemistry and physics and math classes? Carson asked me to blog about the differences between finals in high school and finals and college, so here you go.

1. In high school, particularly in a private high school like the one I attended, there are reviews. There are reviews during class, there are reviews at the teacher’s house where they kindly serve you food and soothe your anxieties, there are reviews the day before the final, and there are reviews on Sunday nights at the school building. In college there are tests. There’s the admonition to study your old tests and notes and examples in the books and the examples worked in class. There might be a response to your email that you frantically sent in the wee hours of the morning before the final. That response will probably tell you to study your old tests.

2. In high school there pats on the shoulder and answered questions and concerned smiles and even the occasional hug. In college your professor doesn’t know your name, much less know that you’re so worried about your performance that you’ve had dry heaves because you know that you have to have this class for your degree and that it’s not offered until the next spring of an odd year and you’re barely hanging onto a C.

3. In high school it is virtually impossible for one test, even a final, to cause you to fail the course. In college, it is highly likely that one test, especially the final, can ruin your grade, thereby ruining your GPA and your plans for graduation.

In four years of high school, I never received less than a B in a class. I also never studied for longer than three hours for an exam and I never had whole weeks where I subsisted on coffee, diet coke, and whatever random bits of food were in my fridge. In college I have definitely received less than a B and I have had long stretches were food came in third or fourth to a myriad of other priorities. It came after studying, mostly because I was trying to learn a semester’s worth of physics in two or three nights, it came after catching brief naps, usually at work, and it came after attending review sessions, study sessions, and worship services. I don’t know if any future college students will read this, but I’ll say this: don’t be alarmed. I’ve relished those experiences, because I know that I’ve earned my grades through hunger and exhaustion and serious bonding experiences with classmates. Sure it sucks at the time, but it’ll garner sympathy from customers at work, your landlord, and your parents will probably send you a little extra cash for late night finals week pizza/caffeine parties.

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