It’s a beautiful day in Chicago. The trees are blooming, the sun is shining, and Shimer students are mentally and emotionally preparing themselves for the upcoming final week of classes.
As Adrian, a 2011 graduate and current admissions counselor, pointed out, the term “hell week” is a recently adopted one. Over the course of the last few years, it has gone from being relatively obscure to being published in the weekly student newsletter. It refers to the last week of classes, when all the final papers you inevitably procrastinated throughout the semester are due.
At most schools, the last week of classes is when one prepares for final exams, but since we have none here, I think it’s safe to call hell week an entirely fabricated phenomenon. It’s completely avoidable if you don’t procrastinate. I’m speaking from experience, having survived a hell week last semester. It’s not uncommon to find Shimer students up all night at the IIT library (which is open 24 hours), frantically typing papers until the wee hours of the morning. It is arguably more difficult to write papers than to prepare for tests, but at least you don’t have to worry about your inadequate performance on a test, given your lack of sleep.
One of the fundamental paradoxes of hell week is that since you know that you’re the one who placed yourself in Hell, you can’t really justify complaining about it. I wonder if officially coining the term will lead to future students concluding that hell week, since it is a chosen fate, is a survivable and even ideal circumstance to find themselves in. It will be an interesting and very Shimer-esque experiment to observe the ‘social construction of reality’ through language.