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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Special Section

Staff Editorial: Finals before reading day contribute to stress, poor grades


The University designates a time for each final exam based on course sections, but many professors instead choose to hold their exams during the last week of class or on the University’s reading day, putting students’ mental health and grades at risk. | Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

Professors that stack up their finals on reading day or during the last week of class are under the lofty misconception that students are capable of juggling papers, projects, finals and attending lectures without tossing a somewhat normal sleep cycle out the window.

Finals season comes with its accompanying bouts of anxiety and misery. While these exams take a toll on our morale and hope in our professional futures, the trend of several finals coinciding during one of the most important weeks of school is an unnecessary obstacle, and violation of University policy, that hinders the mental health and academic success of UH students.

The last week of class is hectic for everyone on campus for reasons ranging from organization banquets, to final projects to hail marry attempts at rescuing grades. Bearing this hefty load towards the tail end of the semester is stressful enough without cramming in finals that often determine your grade in the class.

Most students take 12-15 credit hours a semester, which usually translates to four or five exams during the most stressful time of the year. UH’s procedure for scheduling finals attempts to prevent this from being such an emotionally and physically taxing time for students by pushing for finals to occur during a University-designated period based on a section’s normal meeting time.

This would be a phenomenal solution if not for the frequency of some tenured professors to hold exams earlier than scheduled as a result of poor enforcement of this policy.

Pulling all-nighters, skipping meals to study and suffering from extreme anxiety seem to be the coping methods our generation has adopted to fight this easily solvable problem.

It is insane to force that substantial of a burden on students in such a preoccupied time. Perhaps that’s why the University tries to prevent them from scheduling exams early.

But it isn’t all professors. Most are very considerate of their student’s time and efforts to end the semester on a positive note, and their scheduling reflects that. It is only a small, often tenured group of instructors that decide to waive the responsibility to prioritize student learning and success in favor of a semester that is shorter by only a few days.

Finals would be a more surmountable challenge if they came at a time where we could focus on just them — aka the dedicated week and a half for final exams. It makes more sense to leave final exams to a time when classes and other grades are no longer a concern. I’m not asking for entire weeks, or even days, devoted to studying for just one final, but rather a more balanced distribution of responsibilities.

It doesn’t make sense to jump into testing during the last week of class when those remaining meetings could better be used reviewing the material. Sure, these immediate test dates strike when new information is freshest in our minds, but also when students are under the greatest stress.

The added burden of an early final sabotages our test grades, and all of this could easily be solved with the up to two week delay on tests that we’re supposed to have anyway, during the designated period.

These jam-packed last weeks of class leave students inundated with every possible emotion.

The transition from the end of class to finals is cruel and abrupt under the current schedules of many professors, and these early exams come at the expense of our mental health and final grades.

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