By Kelly Martin, Toppel Peer Advisor

Finals… probably the bane of every student’s existence. The one thing that stands between you and winter or summer break and sweet freedom. Getting through finals involves a lot of stress: about the material you’re learning, how you’ve done in the class so far, how you hope to do on the exam in order to get that final grade you’re aiming for. Often it seems we spend more time calculating the exam grade we need than we do actually studying. And sometimes the amount of stress and pressure we put on ourselves actually prevents us from doing well; can’t focus while you study, freak yourself out while taking the exam, even sleeping through an exam after staying up too late studying. And not to mention all the health problems associated with pulling all nighters or getting minimal amounts of sleep.

So considering all this, I think college students need to step back and put some perspective on these exams we’re all about to take. While studying abroad last semester I adopted the mentality of being there for the experience of living in a new country, not necessarily there for the grades I would bring back to UM. While this may seem a bit too relaxed for some, it’s now a mentality I have brought back home to some extent. I’m not saying I don’t care about academics anymore- I still aim to do well in my classes and work hard. But rather than stressing over one mediocre test grade or killing myself studying for a final exam, I try to put it in perspective. These grades I get now have almost no impact on the rest of my life. Sure, if you fail every class, that will definitely have an impact. But if you’re an otherwise good student, a couple B-/B/B+ grades on your transcript will not kill you.
When you’re writing a resume, your GPA gets one line, if you even include it at all! But what takes up the most space? Your experience section. Rather than spending all your time in the library studying to get those perfect grades, consider the fact that you could be putting some of that time into doing things you really love, and that will come through on your resume. Join a club on campus and get involved with their events; get an internship in your field that you’re really excited about; volunteer with a local organization to get more experience. All of these things will have so much more meaning to a potential employer than your GPA will. And after your first job, or even six months after graduation, you take the GPA off your resume!
As you go into finals this year, remember that the grades you get on these exams and in these classes aren’t going to determine the rest of your life. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and relax. And if anything, take some time to start considering what you can do outside the classroom to supplement the education you’re getting and make it even more meaningful.
So from all myself and the rest of the Toppel team, good luck on finals! But remember, it’s not the end of the world- do your best, and make sure to focus on what’s most important!