Section: Features

It’s the final(s) countdown: Students share study strategies

With summer and its beautiful weather just around the corner, another less-welcome guest finds its way on campus: an omnipresent dread that spreads like wildfire during the last moments of the academic year. Whether we want it or not, finals week is upon us. To many, this means long hours in the Carver Reading Room (or another study spot of choice), sleepless nights and stressful days and lots (LOTS) of caffeine. But it doesn’t always have to be this way! Kenyon students across the Hill have kindly shared their advice on what it takes to have a successful finals week. 

How do we even begin to tackle the ‘finals blues’? Many students agree that the key to a good study session is finding your study spot. Although Chalmers Library may be the go-to place for many, others find that the atmosphere is not conducive to their studies. Karina Morey ’25 is a Chalmers advocate: “My advice is to just go to L2! I am most productive there and associate the space with getting my finals done.” Morey said that she feels a lot of fear during finals week, and being surrounded by her studious peers in L2 pushes her into a “get-it-done” groove. Yiling Hu ’27 has a similar mindset surrounding Chalmers, saying “I’m a first-floor library kind of guy.” He said he gets a good amount of work done there, but noted, “Now that the weather is getting nice, I think I would enjoy a place outside as well.” 

Others, like Amanda Kuo ’26 and Isa Braun ’26, don’t work well in Chalmers. “You have to have your ‘spots’ on campus,” Braun said. “I have some social spots and some work spots. One of them is the LIGO [Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory] laboratory.” Kuo concurred, and said that finding spots like the LIGO lab that she didn’t associate with her major (music and religious studies) is best. 

From the many study areas of the library to the tables on New Side, there is sure to be a spot for everyone. In case you haven’t found yours, some notable places around campus include: Chalmers L1/L2 (or anywhere, really… it’s a library!), the Nu Pi Kappa reading room in Ascension Hall, the Lowry Center pool-side study nook, Gund Commons, Rosse Hall basement, the upper floors of Oden Hall, the Science Quad or even a grassy patch outside.

Once you’ve found that spot for you, you’ll want to get studying. We’re all in a similar boat when it comes to finals week, and it is ever-motivating to hear the different approaches and mindsets students have for pushing through. 

Some might be wondering how this year’s first-year class is faring. Hu shared some insight on how he and his peers are feeling: “While I haven’t started preparing for finals just yet,” he said, shaking his head, “I think other [first-year students] are doing well with their studies and heading into finals with a good mindset.” Annabella Kotas ’27 added to Hu’s positive outlook, saying that she’s “studying hard but so excited for [finals week] to pass. Finals will happen no matter what, so we’re just going to have to get through it.” She mentioned that she is dreading the study load for some classes more than others, but the summer break is her light at the end of the tunnel. 

Will Bryant ’25 provided his take on the week: “Finals week can honestly be really fun if you space out your work and do fun stuff like go to the river. I mean, that’s my tip. You really have to space it out.” Although he noted that this method may be easier said than done, Bryant demonstrates the importance of planning ahead as he heads into his own finals week stress free. He also said to keep an eye out for fun finals-week events and treats around campus, as they can provide unexpected (and nice) study breaks. 

Kuo likes to use the well-known “Pomodoro Technique” to keep herself motivated during extended study sessions. “I set a timer for 40 minutes and when it’s done, I get up and walk or lay down outside for 10 [minutes].” With a chuckle, she added, “I did not want to be a ‘Pomodoro person,’ but using this technique works well. Yesterday I used it and spent four hours writing a final paper. And when you are studying for tests, not just papers, utilizing whiteboards and making a study group with friends is really great for just getting stuff done and not burning out alone.” But she also advises: “Know which assignments and projects you want to talk out or be around people for, and which ones you need to be alone for.”

Isaac Johnson ’24 has gone through his fair share of testing here at Kenyon. While he said that his final semester has definitely gone by the easiest, much of the finals stress will depend on courses and workload. But something to look forward to is that “as a senior, you’ve already gone through the routine enough to know what to expect.” He added, “My best finals advice is to make a list of specific goals you want to chip away at every day. Then follow your to-do list like it is the Bible. Once you write it down, it is set in stone…don’t back out on it.” It seems that Johnson follows this rule to the T, as he remains calm and collected heading into his last finals week here at Kenyon. 

And what about those much-needed study breaks? There are so many things you can do during any laytime you may find. Taking a study break is a fantastic way to prevent burnout. The Kokosing River — accessible from the Gap Trail or slightly farther out by Honey Run Park — remains a popular choice for students, especially with the great spring weather. Other students, like Johnson, take to running the many trails around campus, while others, like Braun and Kuo, enjoy relaxing in their hammocks. 

Braun and Kuo emphasized that having snacks on hand is always a good choice. “I consume a lot of Sour Patch Kids and pickles,” Kuo said. For Braun, a “bag of market pretzels” is her go-to. Nina Malec-Kosak ’26 agreed: “You have to treat yourself! Get yourself a waffle cone (from the bookstore) or a snack for your studies, and hit the river while the weather is great.” Hu said that while he will generally eat anything, “An Arizona drink is the way to go.” Some chips, pickles and an ice cold Arizona to wash it all down seem like great snack choices for any time of year. In fact, immediately after the interview, Kuo, Braun and Malec-Kosak picked up some pickles and went down to the river. 

At the end of the day, finals are hard. But we hope that you were able to take something away from the words of wisdom given here by many finals-takers, both seasoned and new. If there’s any advice you can adjust to work better for you, go for it! The Collegian wishes you the very best of luck this finals season and a very happy summer!

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