Finals not during finals week both good and bad for students

Dec. 08, 2014

Kyle Guthrie
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Finals week.

For some, the two words symbolize the culmination of a semester’s worth of hard work, dedicated studying and endless amounts of textbook reading.

For others, it represents a signal to begin several days of frantic cramming in order to achieve a respectable grade on the final hurdle of the semester.

But a growing number of students are now beginning to regard it as a boring week to traverse through before the end of the semester, since they already took their finals in a different week.

Several classes on campus have begun a new trend of bucking the way that finals have been traditionally doled out in classrooms. This includes handing out take-home exams several weeks before finals week, having students take them in class the week before or allowing students to request to take them early.

It’s an unconventional notion, and it’s not without its own set of pros and cons.

For students dealing with personal issues on the week of finals, it’s a Godsend. Being able to complete something as crucial as a final exam without worrying about whether or not it will interfere with something important at home is a welcome change for students trying to juggle an already hectic schedule.

As a husband with a pregnant wife with an estimated delivery date of Dec. 14, I am one of these students. I can’t express how nice it is to know that most of my professors have told me that they are willing to work with me to ease the process.

Another benefit to having early finals is breathing room. For a student with four classes, having one to two classes with early exams allows the student to break up the high stress placed on them for the week of exams.

But there are problems with the idea as well.

Students who plan for finals week at their job before the semester begins may be baffled or irritated to see that the time they requested off of work would not be the actual week reflected in their class schedule.

Particularly nasty bosses or high demand jobs may not allow these students to change the time off they requested, leaving them in a strange position of choosing between either their jobs or their classes.

Also, some students would rather have the full amount of time in the semester to prepare for the exam, even that one extra week leading up to them.

So how can professors make the impact of finals more equitable?

Introduce a vote into the system. Allow the students to vote on whether or not they would like to take the exams earlier than normal. For the students who are against it, make special arrangements for them.

If personal reasons preclude the professors from being able to give the exams on the standard time frame, adjust the schedule to more appropriately incorporate the lesson plan in time for finals.

Whatever the solution, incorporating the student’s schedules and opinions into the decision making process would be a positive step for all involved in the finals struggle.