We’ve all been there. At some point during your time at Columbia, you’re going to pull an all-nighter for that one exam you “forgot” was coming up. Spectrum has closely examined the seven stages that accompany that fretful night-turned-morning, and have put together the all-nighter guide you never knew you needed (and wish you couldn’t relate to).
11:00 p.m. - Stage 1: Shock and denial
You’ve known since syllabus week the midterm was going to be on March 8. But you heard those words on January 16, so March 8 was a world away. It is now March 7 and you still haven’t accepted the fact that tomorrow morning six pieces of paper are going to make up 50 percent of your grade. You’re a dedicated student who makes fun of the people who don’t have their shit together, but, alas: The baton of irresponsibility has now been passed to you.
11:45 p.m. - Stage 2: Pain and guilt
Honestly, you’ve woken up later than this after a bad hangover (still not sure if you’re actually nocturnal), but the fact you know your bed is slowly slipping further and further away is enough to make you yawn for the next half hour. Your eyes start to get heavy, and your head hurts from sleep deprivation (probably from binge watching “Stranger Things” for the third time last night).
Quickly, the guilt starts to trickle in. The knots in your stomach build as you realize how easy it would have been to start studying a little earlier. You begin realizing the happiness you would have received from a good grade far outweighs the momentary happiness endowed by your previous self-indulgence.
Let’s hope you’re not an econ major, because that’s basic AP Econ logic right there. You cover your face with your hands and realize that you go to Columbia, and remember, “Of course I’m an econ major.”
12:20 p.m. - Stage 3: Anger
You need to get rid of the pressure building in your chest. It feels like at any moment your body could cave in and suck the whole world into the spiraling abyss of your gifted-child potential.
A laptop full of notes (“notes”), 28 open Chrome tabs, and endless Google searches (where did Timothée Chalamet go to high school? Can drinking more than eight Redbulls in a night kill you?) sits in front of you, ready and plugged into one of the outlets in Butler. And with that, the anger phase begins.
At first you blame the professor, wondering aloud how they got hired here and insisting half of the stuff you need to know wasn’t even covered in lecture (like you’d actually know, this is an 8:40 after all). Then you move on to Columbia as a whole, and ultimately work your way to “The War on Fun.” You go on a rant to your friends (who stopped listening a half hour ago) about how these people don’t understand that you have other classes, and this isn’t your major. You may even write a typo-ridden op-ed draft about it.
1:45 a.m. Stage 4 - Depression and reflection
With the anger fresh in your mind, you consider dropping out to escape such a corrupt system. Your heart plummets to your stomach as you consider, after tomorrow morning, that might be your only option. You get into a Finals Funk and decide to use this time to focus on what’s important: potential careers not requiring a degree. You shoot straight to the big leagues, looking up how much strippers in Vegas make, or consider pulling a fast one like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg and dropping out because you’ve been “inspired.” You think you’re never going to pass this exam, and all your hard work in college, extracurriculars in high school, and multiplication speed drills in elementary school were for nothing.
With this devastation comes a new sense of intimacy with yourself, and suddenly everything in the world makes sense, so you start writing down all of these philosophical revelations. (This sort of thing tends to happen around 2:30 a.m. and doesn’t last long. The next day you reread your “epiphanies” and realize you sound like a 15-year-old getting high for the first time.)
2:45 a.m. Stage 5 - The upward turn
Things are looking up: You’ve made a study plan! Congratulations. You convince yourself this is an accomplishment in and of itself and that you deserve a break. You go on Buzzfeed and see if they can accurately guess your height based on the sandwich you make. They’re not even close, and you think that’s genuinely hilarious. Ah yes, Stage 5. You start sending your group chats memes and laugh to yourself (your friends left Butler an hour ago) while the students still surrounding you give you weird looks. Eventually, you start to believe it’s actually okay if you don’t do well tomorrow, as long as you learn your lesson. Once you start to calm down, you know you have to try to pass; you owe it to yourself. And if not to yourself, your bank account.
3:30 a.m. Stage 6 - Reconstruction and working through
You pull up the lecture notes that you have and peel the plastic wrap off the textbook you dropped $300 on. You flip to the ends of each chapter, folding the corners of the important pages. You momentarily revert back to your junior-year-of-high-school self and search for Quizlets, hoping a 2011 guardian angel did you a solid, but come up empty. That’s alright, you make one for yourself. You figure having to input the information will help you retain it anyway. You slowly turn into the guy from “Limitless,” and for a split second you believe can actually pull this off. You spend the next few hours studying and set an alarm for 7:45, when you have to start walking to class. Daylight begins to break over the MoHi horizon, a beautiful symbol for the dawning of a new era: taking responsibility regarding your education and ultimate well-being.
7:45 a.m. Stage 7 - Hope and acceptance
This is it, 7:45. You walk to class. A mix between a gallant funeral march and “Forbes” by Borgore and G-Eazy in your head with each passing step. You pray that you’re able to retain some of the info you learned, and are too tired to make conversation with your classmates who obviously got more sleep than you. The professor hands out the little blue books, and before you know it, those six pieces of paper are in your grasp. You take a deep breath.
Acceptance comes in many forms. Some take responsibility for their actions and understand they wholeheartedly deserve the grades they receive, as they justly reflect the amount of effort and preparation they’ve put into the course.
That’s precious, but cry me a river. We all know the real acceptance after an all-nighter is knowing damn well that, even though around 4:15 a.m. you swore you’d never pull something like this again, you will. Your next midterm, the one you haven’t studied for and brush it off because you say it’s “just plug-and-chug memorization?” It’s on the first 400 pages of the textbook, and it’s in two days. Let’s be honest, though: You’ll probably spend the next 24 hours binging “Stranger Things” again.