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Unreasonable workload at end of semester yields alarming results

Unreasonable workload at end of semester yields alarming results

Unreasonable workload at end of semester yields alarming results
April 28
13:00 2022

Final exams, projects, presentations, attendance grades, collaborative group work and in-class quizzes. Moving out, driving home and leaving behind your best friends and roommates. It is a lot of responsibility for a young group of people to handle all on their own, so class rigor, especially as the semester wraps up, must be adjusted in order to better accommodate students’ needs and capabilities.

Every student experiences the whirlwind at the end of the semester. With onslaughts of heavily-weighted grades and high-pressure social responsibilities, students often find themselves neck-deep in stress. One way these last hardcore weeks should be tempered is by reducing the rigor of classes.

Professors should realize their students are in a multitude of classes, but unfortunately have a bad track record of being oblivious to that fact. Balancing the weight of a course that requires three final exams, a seven-page research paper and a final presentation in front of their peers inevitably creates anxiety within students.

Class rigor must be reduced during the final few weeks of the semester to preserve students’ mental, emotional and physical health. Forty-five percent of teenagers said school caused them stress, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association — and these are just high school students.

Imagine how college students feel, bunkered down in preparation for the battle through the last month of the semester that is waiting just around the corner for them.

After working hard to maintain their grades all semester, students undoubtedly become burned out. Why has it been normalized to place all of the most heavily-weighted assignments at the end of the semester, when students are likely to be at their lowest state of mental preparedness?

From August 2020 to April 2021, a survey conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center saw the rate of burnout rise a whopping 31 percent, capping out at a total of 71 percent of college students feeling burned out.

The fact college courses are mentally taxing students to the point of physical manifestations of stress is outrageous. This stress can appear in the form of insomnia, frequent illnesses, headaches and chest pains, according to an article by the University of Arizona Global Campus.

If course rigor is decreased, like it desperately needs to be, it would make students more likely to actually want to continue their higher education. People are paying for classes because they want to continue learning, not because they want to bring physical or mental harm to themselves while trying.

Ending classes on a much more low-profile note, rather than in a tsunami of grades and late nights, will increase the likelihood that students will leave the semester with a positive mindset, with excitement to return in the next semester.

That’s what college is all about: being excited to learn, making friends and gaining both professional and social experiences. Students do not go to college to wear themselves thin. Class rigor easing up is the best way to make up for this current rate of exhaustion among college students.

That all being said, from a logistical standpoint, it makes perfect sense to have the biggest, most heavily weighted assignments at the end of the semester. Students have spent weeks learning skills and information in a course, so what better way to end the course than to have a cumulative exam that tests students on their gained knowledge?

However, an experiment and study published by the National Institute of Health show a class that frequently provides students with opportunities to recall previously learned information and promotes healthy studying habits may not need a cumulative exam at all. 

If a class is structured correctly and the professor does their job, final exams should not be needed and should be effectively done away with in order to reduce class intensity at the end of the semester.

Something has to give, and that something is the rigor of college courses in the last few weeks of the semester. If we do not work toward minimizing class rigor, college will soon become obsolete due to the immense levels of unwanted stress that it brings to its students.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas 

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Natalie VanDerWal

Natalie VanDerWal

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