One of the best things about being a writer is getting paid to do research and read interesting material. I found this fascinating article today while doing research for a client: Recurring Final Exam Dream – You Forgot You Were Taking the Course.
From the article:
If you’ve had ‘the dream’ related to school, you know exactly what it is.
This is the dream where it is the day of a final exam, and you realize that you forgot you were taking the course and therefore had not attended any of the classes, did not do the reading, and you are certainly are not prepared for today’s test. Other variations include your having attended some of the classes, perhaps at the beginning of the semester, and then you just forgot about the class until the day of the final. It was not intentional, but somehow just happened.
With all the commonalities and differences among us, my very informal, essentially conversational “research” suggests the dream is common to the past two to three generations in the United States and other countries with educational systems that emphasize high stakes formal written tests that determine your future academic opportunities.
Other common components shared by many, not all:
- The dreams don’t start until high school and may not start until college is completed.
- The subject is one the dreamer found difficult, often math, English, or science, but the failure to attend the class was not intentional.
- Many dream the added dilemma of not being able to find the exam room or having to go to the bathroom.
- Most people wake up without ever entering the room, seeing the exam, or having any outcome, resolution, or consequence, yet with the sense is the outcome will be quite bad.
- The classroom door is closed, and frequently wood, some with wired safety glass windows on the door.
- Most people are dressed normally, but some are in pajamas or nude.
The article goes on to discuss the possible meanings of The Dream.
I’ve had The Dream. Many times. For me it is always the end of a quarter of college and I realize that I completely forgotten to go to one of my classes for most of the quarter. Sick, sinking feeling in stomach ensues along with near panic at the realization that it is too late to do anything about it. And I am bewildered how I could have possibly forgotten about one of my classes.
But one weird twist for me is the last time I had it a few months ago, I knew in the midst of it that it was The Dream and I told myself it wasn’t true. I haven’t had it since. So I’m waiting to see if I do have it again.
So have you had The Dream? Does it fit the description of the article? Is it a college dream? The article indicates it usually happens to college graduates and generally starts after college.
So very fascinating!
I have definitely had this dream, mostly just the way you describe it. I’m usually not in an exam room… I just suddenly realize that I haven’t attended a class for most of the semester, and I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out why and if there is any way possible to recover. It’s usually a math class because that’s what I’m bad at. I had it in college, and I still have it years later, usually when I’m under some kind of stress. Sometimes I dream that I’m married, no kids, and I’m back at college for a semester, and I wish I could get out of it. I’m lonely and living in a dorm, and I wish David was there. =) It’s always awful, and there’s no resolution, and I’m really relieved to wake up and find out that I’m not in college.
I have it all the time. And, I’ve never gone to college. It is almost always about math. Although many times lately it’s a test about medical terms and drugs. Lists and lists of meds that cannot be mixed with each other. Since both of my parents died in the past year, I was hoping that particular dream would end. It has not. Oh, and I never SEE the test – nor the list of particular drugs – but I somehow KNOW in the dream that that is what it is.
Oh yes. Definitely. Often. I think this dream occurs more often in times of transition in my life. My 80 year old mom has it too. We went to the same school, dream about the same Hall.
After my mom died when I was a teenager, I had terrible nightmares (related to her death) that grew increasingly worse. I mentioned this to a friend of my dad’s and he gave me this advice- next time you have that dream, tell yourself to stop it and wake up. I did that and I never had those dreams again.
I have used that technique when I have had other nightmares in the past and it has worked.
However, I haven’t used it with “The Dream” – which I have had numerous times. Perhaps I should try it and finally be relieved of math final anxiety!
Christian @ Modobject at Home
My dream is not that I’ve forgotten to attend class but that I’ve forgotten to show for the final exam then suddenly I remember and am scrambling to get there.
Funny. I don’t think I’ve ever had that dream. (Maybe now I will start??)
When I was in middle/high school (even college), I used to dream a lot that I was being chased by someone (or ones) undesirable and then I would FLY to get away. Not flap my arms, but just “lift” and go off. Sometimes there was the added component of “them” trying to GRAB me as I lifted off — just barely making it. Sometime many years ago, that one quit.
But I still relatively often have the one where I’m searching for a bathroom — going into and out of places — finding a bathroom which is full of public or semi-public (or broken) stalls and trying to find somewhere to be relatively modest and take care of my needs… I don’t like that dream. 🙂
Susan (in DE)
Jennifer Hudson Taylor
I’ve had similar dreams. Very interesting.
I’ve had The Dream, usually I’m on my way to the test when I realize I’m in some state of undress, and I try to find my husband so he can give me his shirt so I can take the doggone test already. I usually find him, but I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the testing room. one night I said to myself “this is a silly dream” and I woke up and havn’t had one since.
I took a few College level classes in High school, but that’s the extent of my “higher” education
Wow! I had no idea that the Dream which I have had many, many times is so prominent with so many others. My dream was always about the final exam of a history course. I have a huge textbook which I have never opened, read or even perused in a superficial way. I never attended the class. Sometimes I am late because I just washed my hair. I always woke up before seeing the exam or even arriving at the test site. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced this dream in years. However, I continue to feel unprepared for many events in my life.