Alleviating the Pain of Finals Week

Logan Rutherford


Finals week. It is a necessary evil. None of us looks forward to it, but we all know that we have to take our medicine. We all know that, no matter what we might want to believe, an evaluation at the end of the term is a logical conclusion to a semester.

However, as the situation now stands, the powers that be get to tell us from “on high” when we have to take our exams. This seems asinine, and only an added agony to finals week, so I motion for changing Middlebury’s final exam format to entirely self-scheduled final exams. It solves problems, while causing none.

Self-scheduled exams reward the student who has stayed on task all semester. The student who has kept up on their assignments, who has actually read Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Post-Script, has the option of front-loading his finals week. He can get the more difficult exams out of the way first thing if he wants to do so. If not, that’s still his prerogative. I like the idea of having options during my finals week— being the master of my academic destiny.

Inevitably, people have conflicts during exam week. They have multiple exams scheduled on the same day, or they have two scheduled at the same time. This would never happen with self-scheduled exams. Students could create their own timetable and decide what works best for them. In the current status quo, professors have to give alternate times for exams anyway. Why not just make the not-so-difficult leap to having only “alternate” times—in other words, self-scheduled exams.

Self-scheduled exams would also give professors a more manageable task in regards to grading finals. Surely, only a few kids would elect to take any one final on a given day. The professor could then grade just those few exams the next day. As it stands now, the professor gets flooded with a bunch of exams all at one time. If every one takes their exams at a different time, the professor is left with the more manageable task of grading small bundles of exams at a time instead of reams of them.

Another issue I’ve always had with our system is that some people have a longer vacation than others (as an extreme example, my freshman year I had my only two finals on the first Tuesday of exams; this year, I have my last one on the second Tuesday of exams— I get a full week less of vacation time). This seems preposterous in the highest degree. Why should the Fates decide who gets the long break?

Some professors might object that this will lead to mass chaos and people cheating on exams by giving their friends a wink and a nod and telling them “what to concentrate on in their studying.” Well, we have an honor code for a reason. It is supposed to foster trust between the students and professors. If we can’t trust students to keep mum on the contents of final exams, why would we trust them to write their own papers or do their own problem sets? I think the students of Middlebury College can conduct themselves ethically.

So the next time finals roll along, just think to yourself: “This wouldn’t be such a veritable pain in the rear end if I could have chosen my finals schedule.”


1 Response to “Alleviating the Pain of Finals Week”

  1. 1 Anonymous December 6, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Not to mention that other, comparable institutions already implement this policy. If Middlebury’s so concerned, they could just check with them.

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