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Dead week not so dead

Photo credit: Helen Suh

The week before finals is informally known as “dead week.” During dead week professors are expected to spend most of lecture time reviewing old material rather than introducing new material, and less work is given out to students all in an attempt to lighten the load right before final exams. The irony of dead week, though, is that it’s expected to be the lightest time in the semester, when in actuality it can be the most intense week as far as class work.

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the amount of people on campus shoots up when dead week comes around. The library is packed. The BMU is packed. My lecture that I thought had 12 people suddenly has 30. If dead week is supposed to be dead, then I would say that it no longer exists.

You would think that most students would be home trying to mentally prepare for finals. Not many class sessions are expected to be held, and there shouldn’t be any approaching deadlines to worry about. Right?

Actually, no. The idea that dead week is actually dead is fading into myth. If there is a trend across college campuses, it’s that rising stress and less sleep seem to be the common symptoms right before finals.

From 2010 to 2014, the percent of students who are overly stressed rose from 25 percent to 31 percent. The percent who feel anxiety on a regular basis rose from 17 to 22 in the same time.

Dead week is supposed to be the time in the semester where stress and anxiety should be put in check, yet across the country the common theme is that this is when these are at their worst.

Different schools have different coping methods. At Brown University, students will run through the library naked and hand out donuts. Penn State University has a naked run down one of the main streets. Dartmouth College has “shot fairies” that patrol the campus library and offer drinks to students who are studying. All these events take place during dead week in order to cope with all the stress.

The idea that there is less homework is a lie. Between my five classes this semester, I have two projects due over the weekend, one paper due on my final and a midterm in the middle of dead week. Some may say that I just got unlucky. The truth is that this is how it has gone for me for the past few semesters here at Chico State, and I doubt that’s a coincidence.

While there is a ton to get done during dead week, students should know not to overdo it while studying. Taking breaks and finding methods to de-stress are the keys to success near the end of the semester.

Everyone should take the liberty to find what works for them, but here are a few suggestions to take your mind off class work:

  • Go to the WREC and get some exercise. Between the weight room, cardio machines, rock climbing wall and several basketball courts, there’s something for everyone to do. Summer is starting to approach too, so spending time by the pool is an option as well.
  • Spend time outside. Chico has a lot to offer in outdoor activities from Bidwell alone, such as One Mile, Five Mile, Bear Hole, Monkey Face and much more. Even on campus there are some really nice areas to kill time, and it’s always nice to take your eyes away from a computer screen or textbook.
  • Find a less active activity. There is a mental strain that comes with class work, so find something to do that doesn’t require too much effort. Find a new Netflix series or a movie to binge. Find a book to read. Anything that helps take your focus off studying for a little while.

Although class is much crazier near the end of the semester, students ought to try and make dead week what it is supposed to be: a dead week. Take breaks and de-stress. We’re so close to the end and don’t lose sight of the finish line, but don’t feel terrible slowing your pace a little. Going in to a light jog now means having enough energy for a full sprint near the home stretch, so don’t burn yourself out now.

Jeff Guzman can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Jeff Guzman
Jeff Guzman, Staff Writer

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