Cynthia Blackmore: Time of reckoning at Merced College

Gown & Town columnist Cynthia Blackmore.
Gown & Town columnist Cynthia Blackmore.

Christmas is almost here, and many folks will be out this weekend shopping and preparing for the upcoming holiday season. Merced College students, on the other hand, will be hunkered down, preparing for finals week.

This is when we realize how much we have learned these past few months. The anticipation of the tests, presentations and ultimately our final grades can be stressful. I am reminded of the childhood story "The Little Engine That Could" during finals week as I tell myself, "I know I can, I know I can." Yet there is a sense of relief, knowing that the end is near, and that encourages us to do our best.

This is the defining hour that will determine if we are able to move to the next level of our academic goals. An outstanding grade point average will enhance our ability to transfer to the college of our choice. Passing preparatory classes will ensure that we will be able to enter transferable classes with confidence and a determination to succeed.

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, some required courses are offered only once during the calendar year. This means that failing a class can push an anticipated graduation date back by a full year.

Books, laptops and caffeine become our primary focus and we tend to neglect our dietary needs during this time. When we are studying, good nutrition is often the last thing we are concerned about. It's easy to get into the habit of drinking too much coffee and munching on take-out pizza, because we don't want to take the time to cook and prepare meals. But good nutrition should be part of your study plan because it will help you ace those tests. The more fuel your brain gets, the easier it is to study. Vegetables, protein and whole grains will feed our bodies and help us to stay alert and increase our retention capabilities. Though we are tempted to indulge in caffeinated energy drinks during those long nights, we must remember to drink plenty of water.

Our instructors also experience stress as finals week approaches. It is the responsibility of the students to complete their assignments and pass the exams. The presentation of the course material accurately and thoroughly belongs to the professors. They too have a sense of failure and success when submitting final grades. Test results are the tools that instructors use to determine if the course information being offered is effective. We are grateful to those professors who answer our emails and meet with us outside of class to assist us with our assignments. Thank you, Merced College, for all that you offer the students and our community. See you next year!

Cynthia Blackmore is editor of Merced College's Blue Devil Report and a continuing transfer student at the college.