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Energizing Exam Survival Kits

I spent more than six years in college, and let me tell you, there may have been just one too many finals weeks. In all those exams and through all those projects, there’s only one thing that stands out in my memory: the finals week survival kit a friend sent me. In the box was coffee, star-shaped sticky notes, and a few words of encouragement. I don’t remember precisely, but the chance that I had pulled an all-nighter the day I received it is about as high as the chances of rain in Oregon in February — which is to say high. The box was exactly what I needed.

Whether it’s for a friend, a special someone, or your kid, these three easy steps can help you make your student an Exam Survival Kit.

Step 1

The first step is figuring out when your student’s exams are. You don’t even have to be sly. When they call you to complain that their roommate eats leftovers off molded-over plates, you can simply throw in, “Hey, you sound stressed. You have any big exams coming up?” Ta-dah, step one complete.

Step 2

Next, assemble your supplies. An Emergency Exam Kit doesn’t need to be elaborate. But heck, if you want to order a Harry and David basket and pack a refrigerator box full of food and goodies, trust me — they’ll love you forever. And so will their roommate and their roommate's girlfriend.

Here are some suggestions we have for what to pack:

Something Special: Artisan coffeeIndulgent chocolate. These are the things that students won’t buy themselves, but they really lift spirits.

Something Snacky: A bag of pre-popped popcorn, such as Angie's; snack or meals bars because you know they’re going to forget to eat; trailmix; or fruit. Oranges and apples ship particularly well as long as you pack with care.

Something (much) needed: For many students, exam week means no-shame indulgence: energy drinks, fast food, and all the junk food they can fit in their backpack. With the added stress and lack of sleep, bodies are easily at risk for illnesses that couldn’t come at a worse time. Think healthy: Whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce; Emergen-C; tea; gift cards to the grocery store; water bottles; peanut butter/almond butter; or a gift card to somewhere they can eat at more than once, such as Subway.

Something for the Stress: Unwinding is an important part of effective studying. Pack something silly. Slinkies, coloring books and toy army men inspire the childish behavior that breeds creativity, which is a necessity to majors like journalism, art, and graphic design.

Our beauty editor, Cindy Hatcher, suggests these pick-me-ups for students who are crunched for time:

Everything else: colorful note cards, Kleenex, quarters for vending machines, gift cards, magazines (maybe Cooking Light?), or ink cartridges.

Step 3

The tricky step is mailing things. You’ll want it to get there a day or two before the test, but you’ll also want to avoid overnighting a package, as it’s very spendy. Plan ahead and shop around a little. Some places have better shipping rates than others. Or, simply pick a pre-made basket like this one, and hit the buy button. That works, too.

On the other hand, if you have the time to make everything by hand, we have a whole host of ideas. Check out this Slide Show for things you can make and send in any care package!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cute book bags are a great alternative to wrapping, and faster to open too!
 
And remember, even if you can only pack a candy bar and a sticky note saying, “Good Luck!” your student will appreciate the gesture -- maybe even years later, the way I still feel about the little box Anneka Miller sent me.