The long haul: pre-finals week

News, Student Life

1:51 a.m.

The CMC is quiet; the only sounds are of the click of keyboards or the occasional turn of a page. Most of the automatic lights are dark from lack of movement. Finals week is approaching.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Julie Wittensoldner, junior.

Maryclare Kunkle, first year, agreed.

Between the onslaught of overdue papers and projects and the sting of procrastination, students are finding themselves buried beneath the mountain of last-minute assignments before the end of the semester. Despite being the last week of courses, many are struggling to keep up with the amount of “finals” work that is due… before finals week.

In a survey of 113 students, 83 percent said that they have more work due before finals week than during actual finals week, the last week of the semester.

“[There seems to be] a higher concentration of assignments later in the semester,” Brianna Charles, sophomore, said referencing the great amount of work she has to complete before the semester ends on Dec. 7.

James Zamor, senior, feels this struggle.

“[Students in] clubs or organizations, the orgs want to finish things up… before finals, and so you are trying to make sure you have all of your work in plus wrap up all your orgs…it is difficult,” Zamor said.

In addition to coursework and organizations, the strict schedule of sports teams can also prevent students from completing their work.

“I play basketball, and we have an away game in Pittsburgh [Wednesday], so that throws off my schedule and timing to get things done,” said Samantha Sech, sophomore.

As students try to juggle their everyday lives with this increased amount of work, they often find themselves having to sacrifice sleep just to work longer hours.

“…I try to get everything done,” Sech said. “If that means I lose sleep, that’s fine.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, young adults aged 18 – 25 should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

With sleep deprivation, your brain and body feel exhausted. Lack of sleep can lead to trouble thinking and making decisions, mood changes, weakened immunity to viruses, and weight gain, among other issues.

“I prioritize work moreso than sleep,” Zamor said, “just because I understand that when the semester is over, there will be a period of time where I won’t have anything to do, versus if I don’t get it done it’s going to make things more difficult in the future.”

Of 130 students, 48 percent reported that they have stayed awake for over 24 consecutive hours to get work done, 35 percent between 24 and 36 hours, and 17 percent over 36 hours. Especially before and during finals week, the number of students who stay up utilizing the 24-hour study spaces, such as the library and CMC, skyrockets.

In the CMC, Kunkle said that she is “much more inclined to do work [there] than in her room.”

Although some professors do not require a final for their course, others do choose to give the final exam during class time the week prior to the designated finals week. Though this seems nice, it appears to put extra stress on students when most of their professors choose to do this.

Additionally, it causes problems with the federal definition of a credit hour.

“To meet the federal definition of a credit hour,” Jody Fournier, provost, said. “we need to show that we have a certain number of weeks and days and hours devoted to instruction of the students.”

Ending classes early falls short of the required number of weeks that students spend in their courses.

“The idea is that the last week of the semester should be about instruction,” Fournier said.

In requiring final exams, papers and projects to be due during the last week of regularly schedule courses, professors unknowingly force students to increase their work output while decreasing their amount of time for sleep.

“I never preference sleep,” Wittensoldner said. “I can run off 6 hours or less… last night, I got about 3 hours [of sleep]. …At least I don’t have to get up early.”

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