The group spends the next few days cramming for exams, and all of them miss Alaska because she used to be so good at teaching them precalculus. When they run out of time to read their assigned books, they read Cliffs Notes, although the Colonel feels that even Cliffs Notes are too long. For the first time, they don’t have to talk about Alaska because they don’t need to.
At the beginning of the novel, the Colonel told Miles about his application essay to Culver Creek, which focused on his love of long books. Now, even Cliffs Notes feel long to him. Alaska’s death has made things like school feel much less important.