Recently, a friend and I were talking about Volunteer for Carleton, and what Carleton as a whole has meant to us. “You know, I think I’ve had a really great experience here, and it’s definitely shaped who I am,” she said thoughtfully. “There are just a few things that I think have had a negative impact on me.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, intrigued.
It’s a feeling that I—and most likely, most of the students and alumni out there—am far too familiar with: that intense, looming feeling of having so much work that you literally feel guilty for going to bed. I feel it. My roommate/ co-editor-in-chief feels it. My classmates feel it. And right now, around fourth week, is when it really begins to compound.
Fourth week tends to be when everything suddenly picks up: midterms begin, papers are due, readings intensify. My fellow science-major friends and I have clusters of exams, sometimes two or three on the same day, and my humanities friends suddenly have three ten-page papers, all due within a few days of each other. This whole midterm-paper-etc. period lasts through mid-seventh week before it cools down a little, but then by mid-eighth week you’re right back in the middle of it, with term papers, lab reports, and late exams. By the time you finish those, it’s practically finals time, and then suddenly the term is over.
But the problem isn’t the stress of exams, or the sudden flurry of activity; it’s the way that the entire thing makes you feel: exhausted, but guilty. It’s hard to feel satisfied about completing an assignment when you know you have two more before you can go to bed--and even when you do finish them, there’s a host of other things you could be doing to get ahead in your work. It becomes a cycle, and oftentimes, after exams are over, it takes me a few weeks to get over the constant guilt that I should be doing something more productive right now.
Ironically, I’m writing this after an intensely stressful day of laying out The Carletonian combined with work. But it’s Thursday, which means it’s almost Friday, which means a brief break. So stop a moment, take a breath, and remember that it won’t last forever.