10 ways you definitely know it’s “crunch time” at UNCW


Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

  1. Library parking lots, cubicles, and room reservations are packed.

During a class break, after meetings, or late at night, you head to Randall Library to bust through some of your work, only to be met with several roadblocks. You circle the parking lot for an empty spot with barely any luck. After finally finding a spot (which is likely to have either taken you a long time to fight for or is far from the library itself), you head into the library, only to find all the cubicles are taken by students hard at work, hanging out, or backpacks left as placeholders.

If you’re there trying to work on a group project, you guys struggle to find a table big enough for the group that can also reach an outlet to charge all necessary devices. One group member suggests you check for an open room reservation. Sigh. Every single one is booked up until at least midnight.


  1. Sleep is for the weak.


You have two twenty page papers due on Tuesday. You owe your thesis advisor pages of data that need to be signed off on before you can submit your next chapter. You realize in the late afternoon on Sunday that despite having arrived at the library at 4 p.m. that day, you’ll likely have to stay up all night to get everything (realistically, some things) done. As time goes on, a select group of students is also posted-up in a coveted cubicle for the long haul*. You leave the library at 8:30 am Monday morning, leaving enough time to go home, brush your teeth, and rally for your 10 a.m. class. On Monday night, you treat yourself with the reward of four hours of sleep.

*Cubicles are much easier to get your hands on if you stay at the library all night. Virtually no one needs a cubicle at one in the morning.


  1. Coffee lines across campus are the busiest you’ve seen them.

In order to get you through a day full of classes, work, and assignments after limited-to-no sleep, you decide to blow some money on caffeine in between classes. The line at the Starbucks in Fisher is out the door of the bookstore. How about PCJ? The area within the library is cram-packed with people in line or waiting for their orders to be ready. How about the one at the Starbucks at The Hub? Probably not bad, but far away. You opt to wait at PCJ. Maybe a cubicle will be free by the time you get your coffee.


  1. Grades become a number’s game.


Given how thinly spread you are, how few hours are in the day, and how much you have to do, there’s no way you can give every class, every final project, every exam the time or effort it deserves. Therefore, you calculate the exact scores you need to get on your finals in order to receive the overall grade you want in a class. If you’ve done well all semester, this can offer some comfort and cushion to your grade. If you haven’t, or if your grade is on the edge of a letter, this will likely add to your stress levels.


  1. You bargain with yourself.

Which is more important? Making your senior seminar presentation aesthetically pleasing or responding to emails that are piling up on Outlook? Which classes and assignments deserve the most of your time and need to be done first, considering your grade in the class? If you dump enough dry shampoo on your head, can you put off washing your hair for another day to get 20 more minutes of sleep?


  1. Your planner and to-do lists are jam-packed full of chicken scratch. 

 The only way you can keep everything straight is if you jot it down in your planner or make a sticky note to remind you. The pages of your planner become so jam-packed that you’re regretting not opting for the one that was almost the same size as your Spanish textbook. At this point in the semester, your to-do list might even have “add to my to-do list” on it. A small ping of joy arrives when you scratch off a completed item from the list. “Siri, play ‘Thank u, next.’”



  1. Your friends talk more about their deteriorating mental health.

You can see the wear-and-tear of the semester across your friends’ faces and body language. They’re tired. I’m tired. We’re all borderline miserable. Instead of talking about weekend plans or your cute TA, you take turns talking about the countless things you have to do and vent about coworkers and group project members not pulling their own weight.

One friend complains about not being able to sleep despite being exhausted in every sense of the word, mainly because she can’t shut off her brain from thinking about all she has to do. Another friend complains about feeling queasy all day and not having an appetite, which she chalks up to stress. You reach out to a friend after seeing him tweet about his anxiety and depression increasing this semester. The two of you agree to have a self-care night and talk things over, once the semester is over, of course.


  1. Technology fails you, repeatedly.

 Your Economics professor mentions how many students ran into “technological difficulties” during the online quiz from Sunday, so he can’t share class scores until everyone makes them up. You wish you were one of them.

Over the weekend, your roommate’s phone stops working completely. Luckily, she has insurance on it and her new one will arrive within a few days. In the meantime, you talk to each other over Facebook Messenger. Her new phone arrives on Tuesday. You congratulate her as the two of you talk about what a major inconvenience that must have been while trying to coordinate group projects and meeting times.

That same night, after you’ve gotten a cumulative four hours of sleep between the past two nights, your phone falls out of your bed just as you crawl into it. It was already cracked, but the impact of this particular fall drove it over the edge. A piece of the screen wedged out of place completed and the entire screen goes black. Best Buy can’t fix your phone for another five days. You opt to buy a flip phone with minutes to hold you over (and keep you safe during late nights leaving the library).

On Friday night, you’ve made it through the week and you’re even kind of enjoying the flip phone and its long-lasting battery. Your MacBook Pro speaker breaks.


  1. Hurricane Florence edition: No matter how much you do, there will always be more.

Missing a full month of class added next-level stress to many students this semester. The second you feel like you’ve finally finished your work for the day, you remember that online “bonus” lecture, discussion board, or assignment to make up for last class time. Multiply every make-up hour by whatever number of classes you have. Nice.


  1. Hurricane Florence edition: Professors are either understanding of your situation and work with you on deadlines and partial or late credit, or the opposite.

You have professors who accept late work for partial or full credit. You kiss the ground they walk on. Some offer opportunities for extra credit. One announces he will drop the lowest quiz grade, adding a better cushion to your end-of-semester grade calculations. Another professor gives your exam as a take-home exam, but will have “high expectations because of it.” You take it. Then, you have a professor or two who do not accept late work, haven’t posted any extra credit opportunities, and barely adjusted the course syllabus and assignment count to the post-hurricane semester.