May 052009
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

What are you doing reading this? Go study for a test.

As everyone knows, finals week is the most important and stressful week of a person’s college experience. Nay — it is the apex challenge of a thousand generations of ancestors who lived and died just to produce you, just so you could write a five-page essay on the meaning of Huck’s river journey.

Here’s a hint — Huck Finn is dead the whole book, and Tom Sawyer sees dead people.

Finals are a fact of life, one that has been around since high school, and, in the case of the more sadistic school districts, even earlier. And each and every one was so mind bogglingly important that, as a defensive mechanism, it’s likely that your mind has erased all memories of the final.

In fact, the final was so important, that it’s likely that the whole of the class is a fuzzy memory. This is a sign of how very important it was.

Why, finals, and education as a whole is so important that … it’s importance … is, um, quite important.

You know what? I can’t lie to you people any more. I get $5 from the King of Education every time I say that finals are important. And not modern, shifty-eyed monopoly colored stuff. I’m talking ’90s money.

So, here’s the truth. Finals aren’t really important. Passing is.

“But Johnathan,” I can hear my favorite hypothetical dissenter exclaiming, “What about for jobs? I need to do more than pass to score some of that ’90s money you enjoy as a member of the thriving newspaper industry.”

I can’t speak for the whole of the professional world. But, as a trained Englishtician (it’s what we call ourselves when we graduate with a degree in English. That and unemployed.), I can create a convincing parable that gives the appearance of proving my point without providing any real information.

Let’s say that there are three people applying for a single job. They’ve already gotten past the initial filters — not misspelling anything in the introductory letter, not drooling on the secretary, having the required experience, not sniffing the secretary’s hair, being hygienic, not cannibalizing the secretary. The basics.

On paper, the only way these three candidates differ is their GPA. How is the interviewer going to decide? Logically, go with the highest GPA.

Tragically, people are not creatures of logic and reason. People are creatures that glue googly eyes to rocks and call them pets. People put cats in dresses. People believe that a vast conspiracy of probing alien proctologists exist. People, in short, are loons.

Is the interviewer’s lunch not sitting well? He may get a bad feeling about you. Is your first name the name of the interviewer’s first adulterous husband? She’ll likely skip that trip down memory lane. Conversely, you could get lucky and have the interviewer like you for some equally irrational reason — maybe you both like to canoe, or you donated a kidney to their mother or your smile is broccoli free.

As far as your prospects for a job, you’re better off removing that picture of you doing a keg stand wearing only stolen traffic cones from Facebook. Or not posting, “Can’t stop stealing office supplies LOL” on Twitter.

So, are finals important? Yes, you need to pass, and you don’t want to make yourself unmarketable. But should you stress and worry that a bad grade will ruin your life?

Absolutely — finals are of utmost importance — and worth at least five bucks.

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

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.