It’s the Tuesday before finals. You had a chemistry exam yesterday, have a history paper due tomorrow, an English paper due Thursday and of course your group project for your accounting class due Friday. You’re also about to find out that the English paper due Thursday is supposed to be eight pages, not the original six. This is all on top of your four exams next week, of course.
Many universities have study days or reading weeks built into their schedules. These are days without classes in which students catch up on reading and papers as well as meet with professors and other students to study for their upcoming exams.
In a 2011 Tribune article, former provost John Pauly said that Marquette did not have a study break because of time constraints. Yet, other universities have instituted study days without a problem.
Georgetown University has two study days, the Monday and Tuesday before exams begin. Granted, its exams continue through Dec. 19, but its semester also starts a few days later.
University Wisconsin–Milwaukee also has a study day the Friday before their exams. Again, its fall semester ends a week later than Marquette’s, but students there also start after Labor Day, more than a week after Marquette begins.
To their credit, many universities in Europe use reading weeks. While a whole week dedicated to reading and studying may be out of the question for Marquette, other American universities have aptly demonstrated that Marquette’s schedule is not incompatible with the implementation of a study day.
The university should strongly consider introducing a day for students to study and de-stress, a problem that is exacerbated by the mounting workload in the week preceding finals week. Marquette has no official policy in its handbook that prohibits teachers from assigning tests, projects or papers for the week before finals. The College of Arts & Sciences’ Faculty Guide to College Policies states, “no major exams may be scheduled in the week preceding Final Exam Week.”
This policy should be an official university policy and encompass not only “major exams,” but also all major papers and projects. To students, it seems that professors often have a tendency to forget that their class isn’t the only one students take, or think their class is the most important.
If the university cannot give students a free day to catch up on reading and studying, at the very least it should give students a less stressful and chaotic week before finals.
The university obviously understands that students suffer from high levels of stress both before and during finals as evidenced by this year’s Take a Break: Finals Edition. The program is sponsored by The Counseling Center and Marquette Student Government and seeks to help relieve students’ stress by bringing puppies to campus.
In order to allow students more time to study for finals and to prevent them from over stressing about exams that, in the large scheme of things, are relatively unimportant, the university should initiate both a study day and a policy against tests, essays and projects the week before finals. To do so would better serve students, allowing education to encompass the whole person, both mind and body.