The Nine Circles of BC Finals Hell

author-pic at Boston College  

Feel that sudden chill in the air? The tingling dread creeping along your back like Satan’s hand wiping off a demonic booger on your spinal column? That’s finals season, ladies and gents. Rend your J. Crew garments in despair and sacrifice perspectives teachers on the roof of Gasson all you like – there is no escape from this doom, and no chance you are prepared. Read on if you dare – but if you are wise, you’ll turn back now. As you’ve no doubt discovered while (not) studying for the upcoming exams, ignorance can be sweet, sweet bliss. In life I left a 20-page paper until the day before it was due, and was curs’d by the Jesuit Guardians to sleep fitfully betwixt the realms of Pahs and Fayel.

Take this rotting, ink-stained hand

As I lead a gruesome tour of the wretched and the damned.

I) Arrogance:
This gateway ensnares the cocksure freshman, swaggering about with their heads full of easy As left over from high school.  “Why is everyone freaking out?” they jest with the self-awareness of lemmings on a cliff-diving expedition. “I got into BC, I can handle whatever life throws at me.”  Sure you can, you assclowns. In other news, you’re getting pretty big for minnows – why not try taking a swim in that shark tank?

In this circle, the heads of its inhabitants are swelled with raw helium, recreating the bloated egos of their owners. The uplift is so powerful it launches them into the sky, where they float away into an endless elevator shaft full of hot, breezeless humidity. This delivers a smidge of karmic justice for all the annoyance they caused on Earth.

II) Terror:
As the realization of just how outmatched you are starts to loom, panic sets in. You bargain, asking random upperclassmen if they kept any old notes from that class. But they don’t. Nobody does. You’re fucked.

As this realization sets in, the sky will crash down upon you in the form of the massive sagging buttocks of your least favorite teacher. Enlarged a billion times over, these twelve tons of flab and old khaki pin you down, squashing you to the pavement and ignoring your smothered cries for extra office hours.

III) Procrastination:
A problem can’t get worse if you can’t see it, right? That strategy’s worked out great for you so far! So you finally finish cleaning up your room. Catch a hockey game, grab dinner with that friend you talked to at 48 Hours for 24 seconds. People-watch in O’Neil and tsk whenever someone hogs the bathroom. C’mon, people are trying to work! Not you, of course. Other people.

Those who plummet to this hell are chased for eternity by a roaring avalanche of papers, study guides, and unanswered emails.  This ravenous tide will slowly inch closer and closer, no matter how fast you run… but it’ll never quite finish the job. Hey man, new Game of Thrones leak just came out. You gotta rewatch the series to refresh your memory on who killed who with that nipple blade in season 1.

IV) Isolation:
Soon you’re reduced to drowning your misery in company. But the minute this thought occurs, your friends all fill up their social calendars with classwork and cement. Before, you needed to consult a personal secretary just to schedule a lunch with your roommate. Now, you need to re-break the fucking Berlin Wall.

In the Isolation Hell, you’re locked in a freezing BC Hockey game with no coat… not even a jersey. The stands are utterly deserted, the team is losing to Notre Dame 27-0, and the band is playing Bieber’s “Baby.” Out of tune. On a harpsichord. For the rest of eternity.

V) Heresy:
“My class is bullshit!” Hiss these degraded loons, pacing back and forth in CoRo and Mods alike. How could this professor possibly expect us to remember all this information? It isn’t FAIR!!!”

Upon entering the realm of finals, they regret these words as the droning teacher from Ferris Buehler’s Day Off recites the principles of the brain’s ability to record things if they are focused on and repeated for a middling amount of time. Meanwhile their brains are popped open like pickle jars and stuffed with the answers to every Real Housewives trivia quiz Buzzfeed ever spawned.

VI) Gluttony:
When the Mayans thought the world was ending, they threw Armageddon orgies like you wouldn’t believe. So too will some college students seek to wring every drop of pleasure out of the brief time they have before their GPA hits the bricks. They storm White Mountain. They burn through Netflix series like binge-watch Vikings. They hunt down a cuffing partner, strap them to the bed and ride until the adrenaline sex fades back into “please-remind-me-I’m-not-alone” sex.

In the Sixth Circle, a large greasy nerd (or nerdette) looms over you and one by one spoils every movie, show and book you’ve ever wanted to watch. This barbarous ritual drips from sneering lips; each word coated in enough smug superiority to choke the entire Hillside ecosystem.

VII) Despondence:
Gloom and doom haunt these tattered eagles, aware of their horrific fate but too passive to take any action against it.

Offenders depressing enough to be sent here are sentenced to be reborn as February slush, the most universally hated substance since Mac tried its hand at edible Chinese food.

VIII) Wrath:
CANCEL THE APOCALYPSE!!! The fiery might of a million suns pour through your veins. No test can best you! You are the Test-Bester!!! No, you’re something less asinine. But your continued refusal to study finally sparked a last–minute surge of frenzied courage. Chapter after chapter keels before your bloodshot eyeballs. You don’t need sleep! Sleep is for the weak! You are strong, you…  Oh God.  It’s morning already isn’t it.

Upon arriving in this hell, you work at Lower during Friday Late Night for ten billion years. You can’t hear anyone’s order because they’re all laughing at your permanent nametag: “The Test-Bester.”

IX) Self-Loathing:
In this circle, the terrible light of the Test Day sun shines through the curtain and jabs you square in the eye.  You rise and stumble half-naked through the Quad, too beleaguered by demons to even pick an outfit. Hardly have the auditorium doors opened when the stark edges of a desk swallow you up, pinning your arms to your side. You look up and realize that there are no professors, no TAs, not even a syllabus – it’s you.  You are the judge of your own work, and as your hesitant gaze drops you realize that you have not studied for this. 

The test covers history, philosophy, art, math, culture and music. You must fill scores of blank pages on conversation, personal beliefs, morality and choice. The test includes job interviews, friendships, marriage, politics and the drudgery of the everyday.  There is no multiple choice, no word bank, and it will be administered from now until the day you die. 

Bad news, dear reader.  You’re in this test right now. It started about two decades ago, and we’re all taking it together.

Good news – you get extra credit for listing the exact order of when and how your dreams are crushed.

WATCH: Got a bad case of D.A.D.S. but don’t know why? Watch this: