A guide to Polk during finals week

Owen Peterson, Opinion Editor

The sun hasn’t been out in about a month, the Blackhawk Commons dumpsters smell stronger than ever and cans of Twisted Tea lie like dandelions in the grass — it must be springtime in Oshkosh. I would say you can feel it in the air, but that’s probably just toxic rubble from the construction that you’re inhaling.

With spring comes finals week, and with that comes an influx of students to Polk Library to embark on their final late-night cramming session of the semester. So as most UW Oshkosh students step within 100 feet of a book for the first time since the first week of classes, here is some unsolicited advice from one reclusive Polk regular as to how to make the most out of the library this finals week.

Advance-Titan photo
As finals week approaches, brush up on your library etiquette for your last-minute cram sessions.

The louder you type, the better the paper

This little-known life hack will not only help you finish your papers faster than ever before, but also make you a fan favorite at Polk. As your WPM approaches 200 and smoke starts emitting from your keyboard, expect your fellow essayists to stand up and applaud your breakneck pace.

In addition to relentlessly clacking away, slamming your Starbucks bottle after every swig, constantly clicking your pen and sighing after every completed paragraph are great ways of letting everyone else in the room know that you are indeed writing a paper.

Don’t be afraid to spend the night

It happens to the best of us: you accidentally stayed up until three in the morning trying to figure out the difference between striated and stratified and now the exam is only five hours away. That’s OK; instead of trudging back home in the dark, just spend the night at Polk. You might even get free breakfast if you’re up early enough to rob the guy who stocks the vending machines.

Legality aside, I figure there is hardly a better use for all those empty shelves on the third floor than to host students awaiting their morning exams. And if they need a blanket, they can make one out of all the copies of The Advance-Titan in front of Polk that nobody ever takes.

The smaller the group, the bigger the table

This one’s just common sense, as nothing quite bests the allure of having a nice ten-seat table all to yourself — especially one that’s next to a window. Nevermind the fact that your laptop and notebook would’ve fit perfectly fine on even the smallest desk in the place; this is finals week, where you take anything you can get.

It’s just like using the handicap stall in the bathroom when it’s the only one open: you know you’re an objectively bad person for doing this yet there you are using approximately a sixty-fourth of the table and two separate chairs as footrests while a group of three is now hunched around a wooden desk from the ‘60s.

Always be consuming

Studying can be extremely draining, so it’s imperative that you alway come to Polk supplied with sustenance. Not just any food will do, though. Only the loudest, most odorous foods are fit for consumption in Polk.

For example, perhaps no food is more suited for the deafening silence of the third floor study room than a crunchy bag of potato chips. Especially when accompanied with the opening of multiple cans of Monster, the sound of thunderous chewing will provide some relaxing, albeit unsolicited, ASMR to calm down your fellow stressed-out students.

The volume indicators are merely a suggestion

Despite what those signs may say, there is no bad place in Polk to have a raucous chat. Even if you have no one to chat with but yourself, be prepared to overhear a couple life stories and a plethora of tangents while you mentally prepare to fail all of your exams.

Realistically, those flimsy little “quiet study” signs are possibly the only things less adhered to on campus than the legal drinking age. But hey, I’m sure everyone else in the room really wanted to overhear your phone call with your mom anyway.

Always sit facing the only other person in the room

Some would say that, with the surplus of seats at Polk, there’s no reason to ever put yourself in this situation, but there is an upside to this reciprocal awkwardness. That upside, of course, being the laser-like focus that comes from a study session staredown.

When it really comes down to crunch time for studying, nothing commands focus like a stranger’s wandering gaze catching you staring absent-mindedly at the fat squirrels behind Reeve Memorial Union or scrolling through your phone for the better part of an hour, so having a face-off with a fellow crammer will get the best out of both of you.