The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

OPINION | My Top Tips for Finding Joy During Exams

Annie Robinson
Trinity Poon ’26 studies on the quad.

Walk into Ladd Library and count how many heads rest in hands, how many students are curved around their laptops in rumination, frustration and exasperation. See the Google Docs, double-spaced and desperate, bibliographies galore. Hear the group project discussions, each person negotiating doing the bare minimum and finding that a paper probably would have been easier. Pause and look around.

This is the trenches, as it were. 

Indeed, finals week at Bates College certainly isn’t for the weak. That said, the stressful atmosphere and frantic energy that envelop campus don’t have to rob us of joy. While I am no expert at lifting my own spirits in the midst of exam season, I am committed to trying. So, in the spirit of the season, of this tight-knit community and of good ol’ Bobcat zeal, I offer my humble suggestions for finding joy in the final grind of the semester.


Don’t underestimate the value of a little treat. 

Some might argue that my criteria for earning a little treat is far too forgiving, that writing one paragraph does not warrant a gift to myself and that a reward for opening my laptop to start work is simply absurd. My response to these treat-hating-naysayers is: mind your business. The words “little” and “treat” are vague and totally individual, allowing you to interpret this advice openly. Make finals somewhat fun and enjoyable with a fun beverage, a brief romp through the snow or whatever little thing makes you happy. You’ve been working hard; don’t forget to treat yourself. 


Give thanks beyond Turkey Day.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in fast-approaching deadlines, looming exams and the stress of figuring out how you’re getting home. I’ve found that it helps to periodically take a step back from everything and to acknowledge everything that is going well, the people I appreciate in my life and even how pretty the snow is. That is, taking time to practice gratitude for the opportunities and little joys that are already around you can be incredibly grounding and a great way to gain perspective in stressful times. Giving thanks is not limited to a turkey feast, so go crazy and appreciate what you have outside the month of November. 


Embrace the Bates crunch culture and touch some grass (or snow).

The (Ladd/PGill/Chase/insert your favorite study space here) air is getting stale, and I know you can feel it. I, too, have spent many hours holed up inside my beloved study spots, with my head buried in my work, not having breathed fresh air in far too long. While it’s good to grind, it’s also good to get up and move. Periodic breaks, especially those where you take a stroll outside, can boost your productivity and will connect you with the real world. This is all to say, stop studying every so often and go outside. You and your mental health need it.


Plan your fun.

I know that this sentence sounds obscenely Type A and entirely un-fun. However, desperate times call for extra support from your G-Cal. Balancing work and your social life is a struggle any time during college, but it can be especially difficult during finals week to connect with your friends. Thus, I suggest planning a fun outing or social event on the weekend, scheduling a meal together or some other low-stress purely-social activity. You need brain breaks and it just might be revitalizing and, dare I say, joyful to connect with your friends when you leave the library.


Go to bed.

I believe that all-nighters are unnecessary and you should too. Beyond the problem of reaching the point of diminishing returns earlier than you would like to think, your sleep is vital to your mental health! Without rest we are shells of humans, our joie de vivre is zapped and our spunk is depleted. How can you study without spunk?! But seriously, preserve your sanity, your joy and your grades by making sure to get some Z’s this finals season. 


The trenches are not fun, but we won’t be in them forever. Remember to look for joy, maintain your perspective and to say your daily affirmations. You can and you will conquer your exams, papers and projects. You’ve got this, Bobcats.

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About the Contributor
Trinity Poon, Managing News Editor
Trinity is a sophomore from Sandwich, MA with a double major in English and French. She has been writing for The Student since the Fall of her first-year. She is a member of the Women's Ultimate Frisbee team, Cold Front, and plays the trumpet at Bates. When she is not writing and tossing disks, Trinity enjoys reading, running and spending time outdoors. 

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  • K

    KallieDec 11, 2023 at 5:58 PM

    Taking notes and making flashcards of these wise words

  • M

    MattDec 11, 2023 at 12:28 PM

    What I needed to hear right now. Thanks bates student!

  • A

    Annie RobinsonDec 6, 2023 at 4:38 PM

    Thank you for this very informative and helpful article. This brightened my day and was its own little treat. Merci!