Finals: The 5 stages of a meltdown

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(Graphic by Audrey Hockersmith)

Final exams are like a disease — a chronic one at that. The greatest symptom they carry are mental breakdowns, along with other warning signs that coincide with each stage.

Stage 1: Shock and Denial

It is the realization that the semester is nearly over. Your chest constricts and settles into a dull ache. You decide to check your grades. Maybe you are barely passing some classes and can’t fathom how this has happened. Maybe you are only a few points away from a higher letter grade but firmly tell yourself that there will be a curve so you will be fine.

Stage 2: Anger

Like a fire burning from the inside out, it drives you to conclude how unfair the school system is. How dare they give you a cumulative final. Is this what your tuition gets you? Why are your classes so much harder than your friends’? Maybe your anger turns inward. You should have studied harder instead of going to Aggieville and sleeping it off the rest of the weekend.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Just breathe, you got this. It is the paradox of being frantically calm. What do you need on the final? You may have gotten no higher than a 75 percent on all of the tests before, but you convince yourself that you can get an 88 percent on the final. Are there any chances for extra credit? Maybe you create a deal with yourself on how the next semester will be.

Stage 4: Depression

Who were you kidding? You can’t do this. A sense of drowning sets in. You say farewell to your GPA and hope that it rests in peace. The thought of your parents seeing these grades and being disappointed overwhelms you. What graduate program will ever accept you?

Stage 5: Acceptance

There is nothing. You feel absolutely nothing. You are like a robot instead. Your only focus is getting through exams. It’s peaceful almost, the sense of being there but not being in control. You surrender the responsibility to the gods of final exams.

“(I’m at) bargaining and acceptance,” Lizvette Sanchez, junior in psychology, said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to fail anyway.'”

Dealing with stress

Many students handle the stress of finals in different ways.

“Honestly, the entire semester (is stressful),” Mark Woolard, senior in psychology, said. “I equally distribute the amount of stress I feel.”

Cliff Rone, psychologist at K-State Counseling Services, said to avoid pulling all-nighters and instead take time to eat, sleep and, in general, take a break in between studying.

“Take it one hour at a time, one day at a time,” Rone said.

Counseling Services will be hosting a presentation on surviving finals at 4 p.m. today in Leasure Hall Room 13.

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