Part 65: Finals do's and don'ts

Part 65: Finals do's and don'ts

With finals week upon us, here's our 10-step survival guide — some do's, some don'ts — care of 13 of the 1,120 Illini greats who shared their stories with Editor JEFF D'ALESSIO at

1. Beware the all-nighter.

A word to the wise from ANGIE RIEGER ('89), who remembers "falling asleep during a stat final that I had spent all night studying for. Lowest grade — and hardest grade — I ever worked for," says the Lands' End senior VP.

2. Make a pit stop at Lincoln Hall.

Take it from MARGARET CLAY ('07), who oversees the U.S. Navy's Antiterrorism Program: "The most memorable ritual for me was rubbing Lincoln's nose in Lincoln Hall for luck, either for exams or life."

3. Eat a hearty breakfast.

For future Netflix partner engagement manager PETER COHEN ('91), a concoction cooked up by the folks at the former Daily Grind in Johnstown Center usually did the trick. "They had a breakfast item called 'The Mad Russian Eggstroganof' or something like that. It definitely hit the spot. I vaguely remember there was some sour cream and steamed eggs. Add in some espresso coffee varietal and I was all set to get a solid B on the next test."

4. If you need motivation, remember the haters.

For Bronze Tablet-winning Chicago architect FRED MOYER ('60), that meant harkening back to what his best friend, the snooty high school valedictorian, told him after he got accepted: "Fred, you're going to flunk out of the U of I."

Retired Air Force Major General DAVID EICHHORN ('76) found inspiration in a skeptic closer to home: "My mom went so far as to ask my girlfriend at the time if she thought I'd make it. My mom then answered her own question, saying, 'I don't think so.'"

5. Let off some steam.

Champaign County Judge HEIDI LADD ('78) remembers topping off "the best semester ever," that first fall in little Lundgren Hall, "with a giant, spontaneous snowball fight one night during finals week that emptied out all those dorms and let off some serious test anxiety."

6. Head to the Union.

Not only does it offer "so many comfortable couches for you to slouch or hibernate," which Twitter engineer TOM SUN ('10) frequented. It's also where you can go to draw inspiration from the "large portraits of important people," a favorite pastime of former Viacom and MTV VP MEGHANN WU ('01, left). "The space made me feel connected to a distinguished history and not in the middle of the cornfields with the stench of cow manure mixed with stale alcohol," she adds.

7. Keep your books close by at all times.

SARAH RYAN ('93) learned this lesson the hard way, when the future Kohl's property development lawyer got up to grab a bite to eat after a long day of studying at Altgeld Hall and returned a short time later, only to find the building locked. "I was able to look in a window into the classroom and see my books. They were so close but I couldn't get them," says Ryan, who was ultimately saved by a sympathetic security guard.

8. Go for a stroll.

It worked wonders every time California "Librarian in Black" blogger SARAH HOUGHTON ('98) was particularly stressed or stumped: "I would endlessly walk the Quad for hours at night — the perimeter, the cross-paths — stopping from time to time to chat with classmates or rest and once getting the automatic sprinklers turned on me full blast, but always working through whatever problem was in front of me."

9. Find a quiet study space.

For squatters from the College of Law, that place is often engineering's Grainger Library, "a beautiful place (with) wall-to-wall windows overlooking the engineering campus," says State Farm counsel JENNIFER ALLEN ('02). "I think just being there made us all feel smarter and more accomplished."

Chicago intellectual property attorney DALIAH SAPER ('04) seconds that emotion: "I loved the big wooden desks, the looming pillars and the sunlight that poured through the large windows. It was the only place I could truly concentrate without distractions. Even on cold snowy days, it was worth the trek."

10. When it's over, take a bow.

As STU LEVENICK did in the mid '70s, long before going on to be group president at Caterpillar. "There is nothing like the feeling of relief walking out of Altgeld Hall onto Quad after successfully completing your integral calculus final," he says.

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):UI at 150