Dec 072010
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

I’ve been at the Collegian since before some of you thought the opposite gender was swanky, and each year I write at least one article regarding finals. This is because our thoughts around this time are consumed with the impending barrage of life-altering tests and little else until we’re free of their icy grip.

So I thought it might be interesting to look back on my opinions over the years, guess how I was feeling, and see how that all-important barrage of tests has impacted my life in the long run. Yes, I’ve been around long enough I can indulge in the written equivalent of a clip show. Chew on that, other columnists.

Article 1 –– “Survive finals by using a bulldozer” –– Dec. 2003. This was back when my column was called “Vacant Expressions” and I was relegated to the entertainment section because my writing had not yet achieved the gaseous clarity is has today. I was an English major and hence a studious academic who relied primarily on bribes and lying.

Impact on my life: Zero. I don’t even remember what classes I took that year, much less what I learned. Think back to high school or middle school and you’ll see what I mean.

Article 2 –– “Ins and outs of final essays” –– May 2004. This one is somewhat painful to re-read. I wrote about why English papers are a silly waste of time and include several tricks to glide through one with zero content. As my degree turned out to be equally useless, this is somewhat like looking back when I’m older and seeing myself say, “I’ll smoke if I want –– who really wants to live to be 50 anyway?” Super awkward for 50-year-old me.

Impact on my life: Middling. I learned a lot from writing papers, mostly about how to communicate whatever the teacher wanted to hear. Sucking up is super-important. But the actual essay contents? Nothing remains.

Article 3 –– “Three methods for making yourself look better at finals” –– Dec. 2004. This was an early attempt to sabotage the lives of those around me to improve my own: the “North Korea strategy.” I still recommend someone attach a cell phone to an RC car and drive that sucker around some huge classroom.

Life impact: Zero. I don’t think I took classes that semester, even.

Article 4 –– “Educators… or executioners?” –– Dec. 2005. This article seems to be bleeding at the edges with stress. I whimpered and pleaded with teachers to slow down the pace of homework, essays and tests, so I could sleep and restore my sanity. It’s clear I was on the verge of a psychological breakdown.

Life impact: I … I think I took some kind of … English course that semester. But it’s foggy. I’ll go with zero.

Article 5 –– “Finals week –– More important than eating or breathing” –– May 2009. This was after my return to college after realizing that Liberal Arts degrees, while amazing coasters, don’t quite do what I wanted to do with my life (live above the poverty line). Consequently, I am full of snark and confidence at the unimportance of finals.

Life impact: Necessary prerequisites for new degree.

Article 6 –– “The spirits of finals past, present and yet-to-come” –– Dec. 2009. My above snark seems to have faded somewhat, and I am now doing my bi-annual penitent sinner routine, proclaiming my intent to change, if only the ghosts will kill Tiny Tim instead of me.

Still, the finals this semester are undoubtedly extra important, and I intend to stress about them and cram in all the information I can, sacrificing everything before the eternal importance of finals. Or I may take more naps.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor’s degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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