Semester stress: more than just a finals issue

Nicole Stejskal – Editor in Chief of the Review print edition

Nicole Stejskal

As the semester comes to a close, anyone who steps on this campus can feel the stress and tension in the air as students work to finish projects, papers and presentations, all the while wondering when they’re going to have time to study for finals.

With the Success Week proposal passed through faculty senate just weeks ago, I can’t tell you how excited I am at the sheer possibility of having time to actually study for my finals. While this may relieve a lot of stress for myself and other students, I still question what semesters in the future will look like.

To me, Success Week only solves half of the problem. Sure, students get more time to study, and they ultimately avoid the stress of completing projects right before finals, but it’s the purpose of those projects that I’m still worried about.

Most professors would argue that these end-of-the-semester projects exist to test the student’s culmination of knowledge from the semester and how they can apply that knowledge to a substantial assignment. For most college students however, completing these projects is a lot like cramming for tests – you wait until the last minute to work on it, and you have to scramble to recall everything you can remember from the semester.

So what good does it do to have end-of-the-semester projects if students complete them in this manner? Since they only recall information from the semester long enough to finish the project, they’re really not learning much from taking the course.

Sure, professors do this so we learn to have more discipline when completing these projects, but let’s face it – we’re in college. We lead busy lives, trying to juggle school with work just so we can pay for college. And the reason we choose to get involved in activities and organizations is because we actually want to enjoy the last four years we have before entering the real world.

Now, I’m not saying that professors are completely at fault, or that end-of-the-semester projects are bad. I simply think that the structure behind these projects should be changed so that students actually learn as much as they possibly can from what they’re doing.

To prevent students from waiting until the last minute to work on these projects, professors should assign the projects early in the semester and give smaller deadlines throughout the course. This way, students aren’t faced with the daunting task of a large project at the semester’s end. Instead, they can take smaller steps toward completing the project, applying knowledge acquired from the class along the way.

While this recommendation does not come with a sophisticated proposal and a fancy title, it is just as important to college students as Success Week. If we are to ensure that college students acquire the most knowledge and experience from their education, we must make certain the success is developed full-circle.