The University states it, plain and simple: “No student is required to take three final examinations in a 24-hour period.”
Have macro Monday evening and calc and history Tuesday morning? You’re in luck — you can postpone one. At least, as long as you’re in either the College of Community and Public Affairs or the Watson School of Engineering. For Harpur College, the policy used to be the same, but is now limited to exams “on the same calendar day.”
This rule is necessary. Because of the stress placed on students at the end of each semester, postponing that third exam benefits both our health and our ability to optimize our score.
But why aren’t students with essays or group projects protected by the mandate?
For a lot of liberal arts majors, “finals week” is not a series of exams but instead an onslaught of essays, most due during the last week of classes.
While two- to three-page essays are manageable, most term papers require at least eight pages, to say nothing of the planning and research that go into the writing. From rudimentary brainstorms to the ultimate submission on turnitin.com, the process behind writing a comprehensive, A-range paper requires just as much time and effort as preparing for an exam. We think it deserves the same consideration.
Group projects and presentations are hardly different. Working on an assignment with other students requires finding a mutual time to meet during finals week or the week before, and that’s harder to do than the project itself. Girl A has kickline every weeknight, while Guy B can’t meet on the weekends because of his job at the Oakdale Mall. Presentations, whether individual or in a group, also demand time and preparation, right up to the moment you click “full screen” on your Prezi. Having one of these worked into your week isn’t much to stress about, but performing to your best ability with three major projects lined up over 24 hours (along with whatever other papers and tests are in the mix) is simply unrealistic.
We’d like to propose a fairer policy for this semester’s end. Currently, students are asked to try to work out test conflicts with their instructors, with the promise that if it doesn’t work out, they can take their case to their respective dean’s office. We think the same rule should apply for students who have any combination of tests, papers or major projects that weigh significantly on their final grade.
Finals week is not for another three months, but we’re writing this now because we hope this rule can be amended to include all types of final assessments this semester. Don’t punish students who are evaluated outside of the Scantron. Finals week is tough, in whatever format, for all students. We only ask that all students are given the same mercy in helping to cope.