Jan 162010
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Hello students. Up until this week you’ve lived a carefree life, cramming when necessary, attending classes when possible and otherwise leaving your textbooks untouched since they were first begrudgingly purchased. But during this article you shall be visited by three spirits: the spirit of finals past, the spirit of finals present and the spirit of finals yet-to-come.

Psst — this is a spoof of “A Christmas Carol.” I can’t conjure any spirits except of the grain-distilled variety.

The first spirit is that of finals past. We shall gaze through the mists of time and see how you squandered your youth with misspent activities such as “friends” and “family.” And what’s this I see neglected and forlorn atop a stack of recently purchased school supplies? Why, ‘tis the textbook for the very class that now presents you with a final.

Ah, look how you caper and dawdle with the innocence of youth. The young think their time of carefree innocence will last forever and you, despite the protest that clings to your lips with the bitter tang of wisdom and age, were no exception.

But what’s this? Why, the neglected textbook is being read! Studied! Oh, the present that might have been, should you have but stayed your course and continued on this fine path. But as we see the past fade into the present, we see once again that your textbook grew cold and abandoned, its use long finished in the bygone days of youth.

The second spirit is that of finals present. We know how you are spending this eve — moaning and wailing at the approach of finals, alone as your friends study together. But let us travel with the ghost of finals present and see how others are spending their last few precious hours of study time before finals.

See the warm house, and all the people studiously tucked inside. And look, over there! Your friend who wanted to form a study group, doing a keg stand, and … OK, he’s a bad example. But look, ‘cross the narrow hall! Your other friend, trying desperately to study despite the noise in the other room.

He looks unwell, sickened by the smell of alcohol, and with worry over his own fast-approaching end of term. If the music is not turned off by midnight, I see a vacant seat across the great hall, and a beer keg without an owner, chucked out on the lawn. Without your quiet place to study, your friends will not pass.

But beware — there is one final spirit that shall arrive, barely a week hence, that will draw with it unknown terror — the spirit of finals yet to come.

The grim day that all men fear, the inevitable end (of the semester), is represented by this spirit. We turn to a faculty room, where a cluster of teachers with stacks of papers piled high lend an ominous cast to the poorly lit room. The sounds are coffee bubbling and pens quietly clicking away, handing out grades.

One of the teachers stirs, casually asking how the grading is going. “Terrible,” the teacher replies, as it seems that the students really did not understand anything this semester. With a sad sigh, they return to their grading, agreeing that the next time they have to flunk a student, they will have a bourbon break, as is customary when all teachers grade.

As the teachers take their bourbon to the break room, the spirit gestures toward the paper, upon which, is writ the terrible specter of the future:

(Insert your name here for dramatic effect) failed so hard his mother had to repeat third grade.

Heed the warning of these three spirits! The future may still be changed! A merry finals week to you all!

Johnathan Kastner is a senior undeclared major with a physical and mathematical sciences interest. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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