Students struggle during Dead Week

William Evans

The sinking feelings of depression, anxiety, and caffeinated elation are hallmarks of Dead Week, the time of silent preparation for students before final exams.

The crushing anticipation can be seen in the bleary stares at lifeless computer screens in libraries or residence halls, but the key to avoiding the looming fear of academic underachievement or success is often neglected in favor of procrastination.

Michelle Harcrow, assistant director of health education and promotion, said the anxiety that accompanies Dead Week comes from the perception students have of that period of study and preparation.

“I definitely think it is all about perception,” she said. “It is a time set apart for preparation… but if you wait until the last minute, it will be much more challenging [to make the desired class grade].”

She said students often harbor unrealistic expectations during Dead Week and try to compensate for procrastination during the semester with cramming before finals.

“It is all about pacing yourself,” she said. “It’s earth-shattering — I know — but actually learning the material as you go… and taking advantage of the opportunities you have along the way will help you so that when you get to the end of the semester, it’s just one more test to take.”

She said students should be realistic about their expectations from their finals.

“Set a goal that’s realistic, because that’s worth your while and do the best that you can do,” she said.

She said rest is crucial for retaining material studied.

“Studying for several hours, processing the material and then actually resting will help,” she said. “Your brain needs rest and calories to function.”

Delynne Wilcox, assistant director of health planning and prevention, said Dead Week has been set apart from normal class time for the benefit of students.

“This is a time supposed to be set apart for the advantage of the student,” she said. “The University is very committed to maintaining the integrity of Dead Week by having no added work to be given during this week. This gives students time to focus on exam preparation.”

Caleb Mathews, a freshman majoring in criminal justice, said he believes students have ample time to prepare for finals throughout the semester rather than cramming during Dead Week.

“They technically have all semester to prepare,” he said. “They know they will have these exams [from the beginning of] the semester.”

He said the review sessions held in class can add to the image of Dead Week being a cram-session for Finals.

“I think Dead Week is a University-accepted procrastination-crunch time,” he said. “All of the classes add to that image by doing reviews for the finals.”

He said students engage in excessive studying to compensate for the lack of effort throughout the semester.

“People who stay up every night during Dead Week to do exam reviews [are] excessive,” he said.