Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a finals lover. I flee the exam room as soon as possible without looking back or even acknowledging my closest friends. I would rather be a 5th grader having “the talk” with my mother than talk to anyone about the test I just took. I have a rotation of answers for when people ask me how an exam was, and they are, “ugh,” “it’s over,” and a stare that Medusa could learn from. I don’t look at my notes after the final to see what I got wrong or right and, when I have a flashback of any idiocy I included on my exam, I audibly groan and attempt to induce amnesia. All of that being said, there are a few things about finals I don’t completely despise.
- Most obvious, there’s no class. Sure, you’re probably only registered for somewhere around 15 hours. But when you add in travel time and time for any preparation (even if it’s fake) you were still doing at this point in the semester and just how horribly long sitting through an entire class feels, it could be 150 hours a week. Not having class has tons of benefits, not having to sit through class being near the top of the list.
- You can wear whatever you want. There is no dress code for finals. Showers become optional, impressive even, the farther you get into finals. The best dressed guy in any law school final is the one not in pajama pants or basketball shorts. The bar is set even lower than usual. The flip side to this is that you’re now going to be exposed to some of your classmates in their more “natural” states, and that may get a bit unpleasant, both for your visual and olfactory senses.
- “Free” time. Without class or even the semblance of concern for appearance, your schedule should have cleared up a bit. Sure, that time should be sent studying. But realistically, you’re probably getting caught up on or starting a new television series, or shopping online for that one thing you totally need, or cleaning your apartment to immaculacy, or any other task you can do and call it “productive.” Go ahead, do whatever you want to validate your use of your new found down time. Maybe even study a smidge.
- Normal social behavior is not required. Face to face interactions, eye contact, and in-person acknowledgment of others in general are no longer expectations. Anyone who isn’t a close friend and expects a conversation with a law student during finals to last more than 30 seconds is more delusional than Dean Lawrence Mitchell. In a nutshell, finals are a fantastically legitimate excuse not to communicate unless you have a sincere desire to do so.
- Excessive whining becomes expected. Sure, law students whine a lot anyway and it’s annoying coming from classmates you don’t like, but even making fun of them with your friends provides some amusement. There’s a vague comfort in the solidarity of law school finals misery, and the imagination in some of the complaints is usually worth a giggle.
- Finals diet? What? Eat whatever you want, don’t eat at all, do a combination of both, whatever. You can’t be expected to pay attention to basic life functions like eating when you have so many heavy legal concepts weighing on your mind.
- Sleeping? Who does that? Sure, just like eating, it’s essential to existence, but do as you do. Finals are a great time to be an insomniac—fellow insomniacs old and new pour out of the wood work. You want to sleep all day? Go for it. Maybe you were up all night studying. Maybe you were up all night on twitter. Whatever. There’s no judgment here.
- Having an excuse to not have to leave your apartment. This is my favorite. Law school has made me a hermit. Leaving my residence has somehow become some huge burden. I have to make myself presentable to be public, which usually involves putting on real pants and shoes. Then I have to walk to my car, get in it, drive somewhere, exit my vehicle, and interact with others in some capacity? It’s just so much work. And if it’s raining or cold or in any way unfortunate outside, I can’t. I just can’t. I’m not sorry. Finals roll around and suddenly that behavior is acceptable. I love it.
I’m not saying that these things make finals desirable or enjoyable or in any way a part of my life I’d like to repeat. But I am saying finals are a great excuse for making almost any behavior permissible.