May 16, 2010 On our last day of classes (Class & Charter Day), the sun was out and everyone was in good spirits. My day consisted of going to my morning classes (Real Analysis & Philosophy of Science), attending to the Class & Charter day ceremony, eating at the all-campus picnic, dancing incessantly at the Passion Pit concert, and just kind-of hanging out for the rest of the night. Finals seemed so far away.
The next day, it started snowing. In May. Mother nature must have known finals were coming up, and gave the entire campus a rude awakening. Just a day ago, time was not an issue, but now, every minute was precious. With four finals and a paper to finish, I was in freak-out mode.
The good news was I thrive under freak-out mode. I kind-of just get in the zone and don't think about anything else. My finals were spread out over four consecutive days, and I came up with a plan about how to best spend my time each day. At times I think finals week is not about how well you've learned the material, but how well you can manage your time and cope under pressure.
Neural Plasticity was first. There was sooo much stuff to know about...I had 40 pages of typed-up notes for just the last section of material alone. LTP/LTD, MAPK, DARRP-32, APV-5, NMDAR, CPP, CA1, PSD-95, PP1, ISO...it was all getting jumbled in my head. Yet, somehow I managed to make enough Hebbian connections in my brain to understand to broad concepts of plasticity, and I think I did alright on the final.
Studying for Plasticity was draining, and I was pretty much running on empty for the rest of the week. Real Analysis was next. Math final exams are always nice because you've been using the same concepts throughout the semester, so the early stuff comes back to you quickly. The exam was tough, but I enjoyed some of the less taxing questions (True of False: We Heart Real Analysis).
My next final was for Memory & Cognition. It was kind-of ironic cramming for a test in which the study material was all about how it was bad to cram for tests. Oh well, at least I had some mnemonic devices and transfer-appropriate processing going for me.
By Friday, most people were finished with exams, but I still had an exam and a paper to go. They were both for Philosophy of Science, and I was really nervous because I had never written a Philosophy paper or taken a Philosophy exam before. I had been working on my paper (about the merits of collaboration in the sciences) throughout the week, and just needed to make some changes after my Writing Center conference. So that left the exam...
The Philosophy exam was in the last time slot for finals, so the few seniors in our class were ending their college career with this exam. Needless to say, a few of them finished in under an hour. Super smart or ready to be done? I'd say a little of both. I spent a little more time on the final, but being as drained as I was, I tried to make the final a little more fun by having some conversations with my Professor (What essay question should I write about? Who said the passage to #7? Wanna go to the Pub next week?)
After turning in my last final, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I couldn't believe I was done. Done with junior year. A little surreal.