If you are reading this, it is more than likely the Friday before finals week, the weekend before it, or it is the actual dreaded f-week. Finals, the undoing of us all, the last gasp, the final frontier of the semester, the freshman’s fears, the home stretch. It is supposed to be a special time that only comes twice a year where stress is in the air and every student looks like a zombie who is too stressed to even think about eating your brains right now.
However, for some students (or potentially most) it is calm, or even relaxing, when compared to the week before finals week. I like to call this period in the semester the “storm before the calm” because I always experience most of my stress and due dates during this time as opposed to it actual finals week. While I cannot produce direct statistical evidence that shows that most students have more due dates and stress during the “storm before the calm” than they do compared to f-week, most of my friends and I have found this to be the case. Hence, the motivation I found to write this editorial
This phenomenon, I argue, can best be explained by a two-step squeeze effect. In the first step, professors will schedule finals, or work that takes the place of a final, for the week before actual finals week. Most do this out of kindness because they feel that students need one less thing to worry about during finals week or because then it gives students a quicker end to the semester. Or they might push things up for other reasons. While the thought is much appreciated, if all the professors do this then it becomes a burden instead of a breather.
The second step in the squeezing is when professors will move things back into the week before finals week. Sometimes this happens because professors push their due dates back earlier in the year causing a ripple-effect where one push-back causes other due dates to be pushed back creating a conglomeration of projects towards the end of the year. Sometimes professors just assign more at the end of the year originally because they, arguably, don’t want to grade so much in the beginning.
Whatever the true reason(s) for the storm before the calm, I personally have a visceral hate for it. If wrath truly is a deadly sin, I must quickly find an ordained holy person in whom to confess. For my soul is heavy with the burden of rancor towards this phenomenon. It has made my life, and the lives of people I know, much more difficult around this point in the semester.
Some people might argue that the storm before the calm is easily avoidable by students who do their work earlier in the semester, or that it makes for a quicker end to the semester. However, I would say that many of the things due in this time are dependent upon prompts that are handed out only a week before, or necessary content has yet to be conveyed, or that the assignments are tests which cannot be done before the time they will be taken. Also, making the end of the semester start quicker is no advantage when it will end soon anyways. What is a few extra free days, vital during finals-time, when compared with over a month of freedom.
If you are as angry as I am, don’t grab your pitchforks and torches just yet, fellow students. No single professor is responsible for this. After all, it wouldn’t be a problem if only one professor did it. This is, instead, an essentially unconscious group action made by a collection of well-meaning Drury professors who just want to make our lives easier, and finals time a little less stressful.
If you are a professor reading this article, there are a few ways you can help combat the formation of the storm before the calm that I will convey to you. If you are one of my current professors; first of all, hello. Second, please give me extra credit because of how dedicated I am to the academic process.
Anyway, try to assign projects, papers, and schedule tests in an even proportion throughout the semester. This is probably the biggest thing you can do. Save us by giving your students access to prompts well before this time in the semester. Lastly, it will help us tremendously if you keep your final project due dates and test dates in the allotted time given during finals week.
I am writing this editorial the Sunday before the second to last week of the semester. I spent Saturday in Kansas City taking the LSAT. So now, I need to hunker down with my books and a laptop. While I could probably go on for longer, I need to get to work.
Good luck fellow students!