High stress + sleep deficit + the unexpected = lasting memories.
Cost of Lost Sleep
By Jeffrey C. LeSueur (BA ’83), Cedar Hills, Utah
My sophomore year I had three roommates who were accounting majors. On the eve of their Accounting 201 final, the tension in our apartment was thick. The three stayed up until the wee hours grilling each other and going over the finer points of double-entry accounting. At about 2 a.m., they finally gave up and decided to get a few hours of sleep.
After my roommate lay down, he promptly began mumbling in his sleep. This was nothing new, but it took on a disturbing intensity when he suddenly sat up in bed.
“Debit accounts receivable, credit cost of goods sold,” he muttered over and over. Then he stood up and walked to the edge of my bed. “Adjusting entries posted in the journal voucher.”
I pulled the covers up to my chin and awaited his next move. Sure enough, he reached down toward my chest. “Go away!” I yelled, pushing him back. He ambled to his bed, where he slept the rest of the night.
Of course, he remembered none of this the next day, but I had a good time re-creating the scene for my other roommates.
Multiple Choices for the Teacher
By Camille Decker Slayter (BS ’91), Arroyo Grande, Calif.
My classmates and I showed up to the classroom to take our accounting final. After studying hard we were anxious to take the exam, but our professor did not arrive. To pass the time, some of the students started listing on the chalkboard reasons the professor might be late. Finally, after about 20 minutes, our professor walked through the door. Without a word, he proceeded to the chalkboard, circled the word senility, and began administering the test.
Endure to the . . . Zzzzzz
By Jennifer A. Case Burman (BA ’03), Charlottesville, Va.
I was terrified of my first finals at BYU. I had overloaded myself with 17.5 credits and, by the end of finals week, was feeling sick—really sick. I’d had only 10 hours of sleep the entire week, then studied all night for my American Heritage final in the Joseph Smith Building.
We were crammed into the JSB auditorium like pickles. I pulled out my trusty no. 2 pencil and started filling in the little bubbles. The warmth and quiet of that room combined with my severe sleep deprivation could only result in one thing—I fell asleep. And not just any sleep, but wonderful dreaming sleep in which I not only finished my exam, but walked back to DT and fell into my bed. You can imagine my shock and horror when my neighbor nudged me and I woke up still in the JSB auditorium. I had been asleep for over an hour. The most disappointing realization was that I was only on question 15.
As I headed outside after finishing, my nudging neighbor caught up to me. When I thanked him for waking me up, he started laughing. When he finally got control of his laughter, he informed me that I had been giggling in my sleep and that everyone within earshot was looking to each other to see who would finally poke me awake. From that moment on, I swore I would get my sleep during finals week, no matter what.
Rise and Shhh
By Ruth Fulkerson Robertson (BM ’94), Springfield, Mo.
At the end of one fall semester, I entered the packed main hall of the Testing Center. I walked around and around until I finally found a seat in the silent room. I removed my coat and hung it over the back of my chair. As I sat down to begin the test, I accidentally sat right on my BYU key chain, which was in the pocket of my coat. It began to play the Cougar fight song. As the strains of “Rise and shout, the Cougars are out . . .” filled the air, hundreds of heads looked up and turned my way. Self-conscious by nature, I decided I could either laugh or cry. I laughed. Instantly, the tense mood changed, and everyone turned back to his or her test with a lighter heart. And I left a changed person, knowing that life could be funny, even if I was laughing at myself.
By Angela Hunter Hawkins (BA ’03), Denver, Col
It was 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday of finals week, and everything was under control. I was in the math lab, pleased to be working on a religion paper due at the end of the week, instead of at the end of the hour. My time allocation skills left me feeling blissfully free from anxieties I’d felt in previous years. I glanced up from my computer and noticed my roommate standing by the printer.
“Are you working on your Marriage Prep paper?” I asked. The two of us had enrolled in the same class that semester.
“I finished it,” she said.
“Wow!” I said, impressed that she was even more on top of things than I was. After all, the paper wasn’t due until 5 p.m on Thur—
Suddenly, a mental alarm bell went off. In horror, I asked what I’d already realized, “Our paper isn’t due today, is it?”
At the nod of her head, I rushed to my computer, stuffed everything strewn about into my backpack, and sprinted home. I hadn’t done a thing for this 15-page paper that required me to interview at least two married people and to include research from a thick class packet.
As for what happened next, my fuzzy memory recalls interviewing my aunt and my roommate’s mom over the phone (trying hard to mask my frenzy), speeding through the course packet for quotes I could easily incorporate, racing back to the math lab for a computer, and trying to type everything I had gathered into something coherent. It was 4:45 when I printed off those 15 pages. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t rest until I had dropped off my paper in the John Taylor Building—the other side of campus, of course. I dumped everything into my backpack and raced—lungs afire, legs trembling, sweat pouring—until I placed my paper in the bin.
This experience taught me that the time I spent getting ready for finals could certainly be consolidated into mega-short packets of time, but I
made sure to never do it again . . . despite getting an A on the paper.
Studying for the Wrong Test
By Lorinda “Rindi” Haws Jacobsen (BS ’01), St. George, Utah
One finals week in particular is etched in my mind. My husband, Greg (BS ’01), and I dated through one winter semester, and, as finals week drew near, I knew things were getting serious. Greg proposed to me on the first reading day, completely taking both of our minds far away from our studies. Somehow we pulled it together enough to head to the library. I was surprised, however, when Greg quickly shut his books and said he was ready for his first exam. After a while, I went to the Testing Center to wait for him to emerge. Eventually, he came down the steps, shoulders slumped, with the all-telling white slip in his hand. When he handed it to me, I was shocked to see such a low score staring back at me.
Not wanting to be apart, we continued our routine of studying together, and Greg continued to finish studying early. After each test, his slumped shoulders told me all I needed to know. By the end of the week, I found myself looking at the ring on my finger and wondering if I was okay with marrying a man who was lacking in the smarts department. I concluded that I loved him no matter what and went on to marry him later that summer.
To my relief, Greg earned a 4.0 for three consecutive semesters after we were married, eventually going on to medical school. I’d married a smart guy, after all. So how does Greg explain those horrible scores? He claims he was studying something—it just wasn’t his books!