Increased Workload at End of Semester Adds Unneeded Stress Before Finals

Students study in the John Stewart Memorial Library/Photo by Caitlyn Minelli

College students often become overwhelmed by the amount of work (reading, assignments, class lectures) they are required to complete during the semester, particularly during the end of the semester before final exams. There is concern that students may not fully benefit from an increase in coursework at the end of the semester due to stress and the need to study for finals.

It is coming down to the wire at Wilson College, with only four weeks left until school is over for the 2016-2017 school year. This means beautiful weather, Spring Fling, and preparation for commencement. While all of those things sound good, the end of the semester also means finals are coming up as well. So how are students able to have fun and enjoy the beautiful weather when they have more than three assignments due each week in the same class and have to study for finals? Perhaps the real question in all of this would be why professors bombard students with work as if they don’t have other classes and have a life outside college.

When asked whether professors know ahead of time when finals are scheduled, Dr. Jonathan Z Long, Assistant Professor of Communications, said, “Each college provides its faculty with an academic calendar indicating in advance general deadlines for the next few years.” Dr. Long went on to say, “We only know the week of finals until the registrar’s office, during the course of the regular semester, determines the appropriate day and time for each class final.”

So it is very obvious that professors do know when finals are scheduled, however they still tend to schedule the most work around this time.

Recently a student from Morgan State University tweeted, “Swear my professors have a conference with each other to make sure all of my exams and assignments are due at the same damn time.”

This in reality is somewhat true. Professors do know when finals take place but still tend to assign more work when the school year is coming to end. If they know when finals are, and are given an “advance calendar,” why wait until late in the semester to put students under so much stress?

When asked whether professors take into consideration that students have other classes or if they simply do not care, two professors had quite a different response.

Professor Kiah Berman, who teaches Spanish, stated, “I would venture to guess that all professors care that you have a great deal of work, and we are sympathetic to that in theory. However, every single student in this college has a different schedule with different requirements and workloads.” Berman further stated, “It is impossible for each professor to make his or her finals schedule and finals requirement convenient for all students. We all teach in different disciplines and are not privy to the schedules and plans of other professors.”

Long stated, “As a faculty member, I generally operate on the assumption that students are both enrolled in courses while working at least part-time. Regardless, however, we also assume that students are working ‘full-time’ on all of their courses. As you can find from a number of college sources, the general rule of thumb is that students should be spending at least two to three hours outside of class for every credit hour they are enrolled in (some schools even have a ‘credit hour calculator’ to help students plan ahead!).”

Both Professor Berman and Professor Long make a valid point, but that still does not solve the problems for students if professors know exactly when finals week takes place.

Lindsey Purvis ‘17 who is on the Wilson College Basketball team stated, “It’s just tiring and stressful sometimes you know? Like these professors know for a fact that we have other classes and they are really being selfish, I can’t even relax because of all the work I have to get done.”

When asked, how she feels about professors giving so much when finals are coming up, Katie Shank ’20 who is on the field hockey team at Wilson responded by saying “I hate it! It is ridiculous. You have some professors who give a little work, while you have other professors who think you are only taking their class.”

It seems as though many students feel the same about professors giving too much work when the semester is coming to an end. Students feel stressed and overwhelmed, and often stay up late doing work, causing them to have less sleep.

In an article by Shelley D. Hershner and Ronald D Chervin, they state that, “The consequences of sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness are especially problematic to college students and can result in lower grade point averages, increased risk of academic failure, compromised learning, impaired mood, and increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.”

Not only are students staying up late to get their work done because of the amount of work they are expected to complete, they are also putting their life in danger when they are not getting enough sleep at night.

Long stated, “A student’s health is a good way for students to maintain good grades and do better at studying.”
Professors need to consider what they are doing to students when they assign too much work. They need to understand that students have other classes, that some students have jobs, and that some students deal with personal issues as well.

Professors should reconsider waiting until the last minute to assign work to students, especially when they know months in advance when finals will take place. Students want to plan in advance to prepare for finals and when professors wait until the last minute to assign work, it doesn’t do anything but add additional stress.

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