200 Days in the Life of the College

Monday, December 13

Finals Week: E pluribus tension

By John Wulf ’12

Hannah Grace O’Connell ’14 has a busy week ahead. Camped in the library on a snowy Monday night, she confronts the arduous task in front of her. Tomorrow night she has an oral exam in her American Society sociology class. Wednesday morning she takes her Introduction to Communication final. On Thursday she faces her French exam, and on Friday, to finish in style, she turns in a final anthropology project for Ethnography and Fieldwork.

It is a lot to handle for anyone, especially for someone in her first semester on the Hill, but O’Connell is not alone. There is not a student at Hamilton who can’t relate to her situation. Ben Schwartz ’12 has two papers and three exams in the next three days. Anna Chelius ’11 has to finish two papers, take an exam and complete the first half of her senior art project. James Hogan ’11 has to write 20 pages — tonight.

Exam period is a collective stress made up of individual stories. Everyone has his or her own problems and concerns, but takes solace in the community struggle. O’Connell is studying with her upperclass rugby teammates because, as she says, “It’s nice knowing they survived and made it through the same thing.”

For all of the diversity that Hamilton fosters, and for all of the divergent opportunities it offers, it is rare for the school to come together in complete and total unity. But twisted as it may seem, Finals Week provides just that. It brings the campus closer.

Looking at the week ahead, “I know I can handle it,” says O’Connell. “I’m just very tense.”

Welcome to the club.