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This Monday, Oxford students begrudgingly returned to campus to face a handful of remaining class days and final exams. This period, although only a little over two weeks, is undoubtedly one of the most stressful times of the academic year. The prospect of preparing for exams covering a semester’s worth of information, writing long papers and giving lengthy presentations is daunting.

These two weeks are especially intimidating given the significance of finals period. Oxford students are an intelligent, ambitious bunch. Many of us have plans to pursue graduate programs in our fields of study and hold high hopes for our job prospects after graduation. Some want to be doctors or lawyers, others published authors or scholars. Achieving these goals requires continued academic achievement, which is often contingent upon success during finals week.

Our focus on academics often means that the work we perform is alienated from our overarching ambitions. We give a lot of weight to each assignment, and with the sheer quantity of assignments ahead of us, we lose sight of their significance.

As a result, we push forward almost mindlessly, cranking out another paper and solving another problem without remembering why. Getting caught up in the whirlwind of late nights, caffeine fueled study sessions, and hair-pulling assignments is easy. It is much harder to force ourselves to reflect on how what we are learning will help us grow as students and move us closer to our goals.

Let’s think for a moment. At some point, we decided that pursuing a bachelor’s degree was the right choice for ourselves. After that, we decided that Oxford College was the place we wanted to start our collegiate journeys. Even more recently, we chose which classes fit in with our academic goals. We made these decisions for a reason, and keeping these reasons in mind will afford us a more meaningful educational experience, with less time spent wondering why you’re spending every night of the next two weeks in the library.

This can be difficult sometimes, like when you’re an English major suffering through the lab requirement or a chemistry major in a continued writing course. In these moments, it is challenging to see how our work aligns with our goals, but important nonetheless.

In the coming days, I urge you to not let your ambition be diluted to the number or letter on the top of your page. Between bouts of productivity, take a moment to reflect on why your biology textbook has become your third arm and Phi Gamma your new home. I believe that by doing this, we add meaning to our classwork and feel less like productivity machines.

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The student news site of Oxford College of Emory University
Remember Why You’re Here