The end of the semester at Binghamton University can be a stressful time for students with busy finals schedules, but art students face tests of another kind.
Alessandra Rannazzisi, a senior majoring in psychology, is active in Binghamton’s dance community and thinks dance classes are not “your typical finals week experience.”
According to Rannazzisi, the pressure stems from continuous practice and the evaluation process, which consists of three to five dancers performing in front of the teacher.
“You get one shot at it, there’s no going back and double-checking or second-guessing yourself,” Rannazzisi said. “That’s why I love it.”
Others who have taken dance courses echoed those sentiments and said art classes are both physically and mentally challenging.
“Being in a dance or art class gives you a release of expression that a social science class could never do,” said Elizabeth Rindner, who is a senior in the individualized major program majoring in journalism and media studies.
Rannazzisi described dance as a self-discovery process that involves discipline and dedication of the mind and body.
“You can’t put it off the way you’re able to with reading or assignments,” Rannazzisi said. “It’s a semester-long process, four days a week for an hour and a half each day.”
Other students agree that the techniques for studying for each of the courses are different.
Emily Rellis, a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the difference between her social science and theater courses is participation.
“In my theater classes, participation means more than showing up, but partaking in acting exercises or group discussions,” Rellis said.
Rellis added that her PPL finals require more writing and memorization of texts whereas theater finals involve oral presentations and hours of practice, but there are benefits to both types of courses.
“For those who only take art classes and dislike social science classes — work hard, for the skills you take away, like being able to write well and hold a position or just think critically, can be amazingly productive skills to your work within the arts,” she said.
Some non-arts courses also rely on participation. Anna Gotlib, an assistant professor of philosophy at BU, explained that philosophy involves some memorization, but mostly focuses on connecting concepts and learning to take a position in an argument.
“I think that students who are most successful come with not only an open mind, but with a desire to be unsettled in their own beliefs — to allow themselves to enter a new world of ideas, terms and understandings, and instead of resisting these new ideas, learn how to apply them, challenge them and generally expand their worldviews,” Gotlib said.
In contrast with the arts, students studying for finals in science and math courses must deal with the difficult theories and practice the skill of memorization.
“I believe that hard science courses are more challenging and rigorous than the social sciences,” said Michael Ulanski, a senior majoring in biology.
Many times, science courses are cumulative, which increases the amount of memorization and practice students need to do, according to Ulanski.
According to Jordan Last, a senior majoring in chemistry, there are tough science courses and tough arts courses. He thinks that some professors just make their courses more difficult than others.
“The science classes do cover hard material and I think the very nature of the material has a big influence in students’ class-choosing decisions,” he said.
Regardless of your major, Gotlib said thinking about the big questions matters for whatever career path you are on.
“As a broadly educated person, you will be the kind of lawyer, doctor, engineer, whatever, that people might actually want to spend time with outside of your office,” Gotlib said.