Burned to an academic crisp

It’s that time of the year again – almost spring break. But before students can enjoy that much-hyped week of relaxing and partying, they have to endure a week of cramming and testing (a.k.a. midterm week). The week of tests before spring break is probably one of the worst weeks, in terms of school work, of the entire year.

In the fall semester, midterms arrive so quickly that students are practically still enjoying school; a few more tests are no big deal.

With final exams, there is the prospect of several long weeks completely away from any sort of school work that bolsters students in times of desperate studying.

But with the spring semester midterms, students are already so burnt out from a long year that not only do they not want to study, they don’t wish to return to school following the break either.

The pressure to do extremely well takes away the inherent joy one can find in such activities as learning. After 16-plus years of constant schooling, students come to associate stress and anxiety with learning rather than joy and satisfaction in understanding something new.

So what can be done? One suggestion would be for professors to stagger the tests so that students are not bombarded with them, one after another.

Many times professors don’t grade the assignments until after the midterm grades are already due, resulting in an “SP,” or satisfactory performance, when one checks their grades on Novasis. If the deadline for midterm grades is not so sacred that an “SP” is acceptable, then why can’t professors wait to have their tests until later in the semester?

Parents and teachers expect so much of children in terms of academic excellence that it’s no wonder many students feel burnt out by the time they reach college. We certainly are not trying to downplay the importance of a college education, if only because it is absolutely necessary in today’s economy to earn a living wage. And we certainly do not doubt the importance of midterm exams.

But the importance of both of these are measured within a society that values excellence in every single discipline; mediocrity, and worse, failure, are not tolerated. Their absolute value cannot truly be determined unless one attempts to examine them outside of the framework of our society, and this is not only impossible, it would also be meaningless, unless this very framework is changed.