Making it Through Finals When Nothing is Working

Luckily for me, I didn’t have too many “test” finals this semester. My classes were all about advertising and graphic design and getting out there in the field so for most of my classes, I had to present the work I have done over the course of the semester. Not bad, eh? However, unluckily for me, this meant that I had to know how to work computers. For one of my classes, we spend the whole semester doing logo design for businesses around Cedar City. I did all my work in Adobe Illustrator and saved all my logos as PDFs. When it came time to put my portfolio together, I was using an online portfolio generator that would not let me upload PDFs. This resulted in me spending around three hours converting everything to a format that would work. Finals – 1, Shannon – 0.

Another one of my classes did have an actual test for the final. Throughout the semester, all of our tests had been open book, so me being me, I didn’t put that much effort into taking notes. You can imagine my horror when I found out (two days before the test) that the final would not be open book and would mean the difference between entire letter grades. This resulted in me scouring the entire textbook and making hundreds of flash cards that I crammed the night before. Finals – 2, Shannon – 0.

And then we come to today. In my advertising strategies class we have spent the whole semester creating an advertising campaign for a business of our choice – print ads, radio ads, TV storyboards, a website, promotional materials, etc. – and the final was to present everything we have done. I spent forever making a beautiful Prezi displaying all of my work, complete with sound effects and everything. I confidently walked into my final and got ready to present… but when I tried to load my presentation, I got the message – “SERVERS DOWN.” What?! No. That couldn’t happen. I tried everything I could to no avail. My Prezi was lost to the interwebs. I quickly emailed all the information I needed to myself and successfully winged the presentation, but why?! Finals – 3, Shannon – 0.

Fortunately for me, despite all these hurdles, I still earned good grades on all my finals. But let this be a lesson to you as you begin taking those end of year tests and then head to college: always save the right file format, always take notes, and always back up your presentations! You can never be too prepared.


Lesson Learned.

Well, I almost made it. 

“Made what?” You might be asking yourself.

I almost made it four years without participating in that quintessential college experience everyone tells you is bound to happen at least once during your college career.
I almost proved that idea wrong.
Until Sunday.
You see, my capstone paper was due Monday at 5pm. After a rough past week of late nights and slaving away all weekend (yes, I know I should have been slaving away all semester…kind of the point of a senior capstone paper…#procrastinationproblems), I felt confident I would have plenty of time to finish it up this weekend.
But, roughly five panic attacks and 1,900 articles about Laura Bush later…
I finally pulled my first ever all-nighter. 7:30 pm on Sunday to 6:38 pm on Monday. I’m lucky to have an office at the school–but being the only person in the student center at night can get a little long…

This is disturbingly accurate…

By the way, I would not recommend an all nighter to ANYONE. I don’t know how people do it, I really don’t. I’m exhausted. Physically and mentally. Lesson learned. NEVER AGAIN. 
Now, here I am sitting in my bed, wide awake, at midnight. Because now that I’m not completely stressing over my paper, I’m just coming to the realization that I GRADUATE IN 10 DAYS.
Just like my good friend James Taylor tells us, “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”. So, now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the ride!  Good luck with your last few weeks (or month) of school! Stay strong and at all costs, avoid all nighters!

The final stretch…

It’s official. There is one month and one day left until graduation. Which means there are like, 17 school days left before finals week and then a few tests and then I’m done with college. 

In order to make it through these last few weeks of school, I have a plan to keep me motivated. I know I do these kinds of posts a lot, but seeing as you, the reader, are probably almost done with high school, I think we both could benefit.

The Plan:

  • Get plenty of rest (but don’t overdo it). Seven to eight hours a night should give you the energy you need to get through the day.
  • Eat a good breakfast. They’re not lying when they say it’s the most important meal of the day. Cook some scrambled eggs, butter up a piece of sourdough toast, and wash it down with some orange juice and yogurt. Yum.
  • Pay attention in class. I know it’s hard, especially with Google Maps being littered with Pokemon that you can spend hours catching. But playing games on your phone won’t help you keep that GPA up till the end of the semester.
  • Get outside, or at least to the gym. It’s probably the last thing you want to do if you’re feeling unmotivated but trust, those endorphins are actually all they’re cracked up to be.
  • Do homework first. I know, I know, all I want to do when I get home from school is get a package of Oreos and curl up with Netflix too. But if you get your work done first, you won’t have it looming over your head, and you’ll have a clearer mind while you’re doing it!

The last part of the school year is always rough, but if you follow these suggestions, I know you can make it! What are your ideas for getting through the last bit of the semester? 


How to Survive Finals Week: Another Guide


  • healthy snacks (granola bars, veggies, trail mix)
  • water bottle (reusable – save the environment)
  • scantrons and $0.50 to buy extra scantrons in case you lose/bend yours
  • Indie Holidays playlist on Pandora
  • textbooks and all your notes from the whole semester
  • scratch paper to doodle/plan your ideas on
  • or SUU Confessions open in a tab for your study break distractions
  • ugly sweater


Step One: Go to the library. You can’t get studying done outside the library. Trust me, I’ve tried. Set up your station on the third floor with your computer surrounded by notes, books, snacks, and water. You’ll probably see your friends there but put in your headphones (playing Pandora of course) to get rid of the temptation to talk to them.

Step Two: Actually study. Bury yourself in those notes and learn, learn, learn. Or, if you’re writing a paper or doing an assignment, make yourself work on it for 30 minutes before taking a break. Repeat.

Step Three: Take a break. Read or SUU Confessions to entertain yourself, walk around, say hi to one of your friends who is also taking a break (don’t distract your friends who are working). Give yourself a time limit on your break and then get back to work.

Step Four: If you find that you can’t concentrate at all and you’re getting nothing done, head over to the PE Building and go for a jog. It will relax your mind and make it easier for you to concentrate when you return.

Step Five: Chances are, during finals week you’ll be invited to at least one ugly sweater party. (I’m going to one tonight.) Allow yourself to go, at least for a little while. Ugly sweater parties are awesome.

Step Six: Get enough sleep. Then study some more.

Step Seven: Ace that final! You’ve done all you can and there’s no reason to stress about it now. Don’t forget your scantron, be confident, and walk out of there with your head held high. You did it!

It’s the final(s) countdown

College. Crazy. Busy. Fun. Overwhelming. Rewarding. Exciting.

This is my life. Or at least PART of my life.

Experiences with my past 11 semesters of school, and now in my 12th semester, has taught me that the week BEFORE finals week is much much more intense than finals week. This is the week where the bulk of all my papers, presentations, activities, events, gatherings, and responsibilities come due. This on top of attending regular classes, studying for final exams, and balancing those things with a strong internal drive for social-ness leaves me tired most of the time. Don’t worry. I love it. You probably do too.

This craziness drives me forward. The stress fuels my abilities. The pressure fades into success.

I love this week when I realize that I really actually was learning important stuff during the semester. It’s go time. Let’s go! Here’s a random conglomeration of what I’ve seen and what I’ve been up to this week.

I typically arrive at school around 8am. Lately this has been the scene for Cedar City mornings. It makes me want to accomplish good things.

I typically arrive at school around 8am. Lately this has been the scene for Cedar City mornings. It makes me want to accomplish good things.

This is where the magic happens. This is where work, school, and teaching all converge for me. Note the Caffeine, music, homework, and notes...It's go time!

This is my office where the pre-finals week magic has been happening for me. This is where work, school, and teaching all converge. Note the Caffeine, snacks, music, homework, and class notes…It’s go time!

Even in the stress of finals week, there's still time for fun. Oh, and time to get an entire graduate class to poss for a Jazz-hands picture. Nice, eh?

Even in the stress of finals week, there’s still time for fun. Oh, and time to get an entire graduate class to poss for a Jazz-hands picture. Nice, eh?

What happens when you gather three #tbirdnation bloggers at one SUU event? Photo opp!

What happens when you gather three #tbirdnation bloggers at one SUU event? Photo opp!

There are too many things going on here for me to let me just say how thankful I am for good friends.

There are too many things going on here for me to caption…so let me just say how thankful I am for good friends.

Best of luck to you, me, SUU in general, and every other member of the Tbirdnation. May your pre-finals week, finals week, and holiday season be filled with everything you want it to be filled with!

3 weeks remaining!

I can’t believe the semester is almost coming to an end. We have three weeks left of school at SUU before Christmas break. Then, just like that, classes will be starting up again and another semester will be underway. Thanksgiving Break also starts …. well, as soon as class ends today, which is very exciting.

Sometimes it is hard to focus when there is such little time left, so I thought I’d give four suggestions for what I do when the end of the semester rolls around:

1. Don’t get stuck in a rut. In other words, don’t just focus on the count down (although that is probably hypocritical of the first paragraph). If you focus on getting each project done, making sure to complete assignments on time, you’ll get through the last few weeks.

2. Take time to have fun. Yes, studying for finals is important. Yes, those final projects are sometimes a pain and lack of motivation may be running high. But, work hard. Don’t give your worst at the end of the semester. Instead, work hard, but also take breaks while studying. Go grab some frozen yogurt at Krave or a white hot chocolate from The Grind.

3. Make time to exercise. Whenever I get really stressed and unmotivated, I  realize there usually has been a lack of exercise. So, dust off your gym shoes, rent some rock climbing equipment for the indoor rock wall, or find some friends who can (or can’t) play racquetball.

4. Get enough sleep. This one can be quite difficult for college students, but I have found that I can focus more, I am happier, and I feel less stressed when I get enough sleep at night.

Do you have any tips to share?