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Top 10 complaints about midterm season

With the workload of the semester only increasing, it feels necessary to list my grievances.

<p>It’s never fun to look at your syllabi and realize that you have multiple exams and papers due on the same day, but this situation inevitably happens. &nbsp;</p>

It’s never fun to look at your syllabi and realize that you have multiple exams and papers due on the same day, but this situation inevitably happens.  

As we move into the thick of the semester, I am sure we are all tired and overwhelmed. I hope you can find some solace in knowing that we are all in this together. We can definitely do this — but let me complain first.  

1. The use of the word “midterm” itself 

First, I do not even support using the phrase “midterm” when describing the exams and papers due around the end of September. Something about calling an exam in September — when the semester ends in December — a “midterm,” does not sit well with me. While some professors explicitly refer to these exams as the “midterm,” other times students unnecessarily label it a “midterm” themselves.

2. “That definitely was not mentioned in lecture!”

As soon as the exam results are released on Collab, your lecture hall is abuzz with classmates exasperatedly claiming that number 22 was definitely not mentioned in lecture and that they are going to email the professor immediately for a grade change. My piece of advice — I generally avoid opening exam results in front of groups of people. Also, take a few minutes to calm down before sending that post-exam email — although it might be horrifying to consider, you might actually be wrong. 

3. Two words — group project

I am sure you have been assigned at least one group project by this point in the semester. Even if you are given class time to work on the project, it is never productive. Then, you must figure out when everyone can meet, which is nearly impossible. Before you know it, your group members have completely gone off the grid the day before it's due, and you are left to tackle it yourself and cross your fingers that it will work out. 

4. Somehow everything is due on the same day 

It’s never fun to look at your syllabi and realize that you have multiple exams and papers due on the same day, but this situation inevitably happens. You are then forced to somehow juggle your studying efforts between multiple exams and papers — and something falls through the cracks. Thankfully, there is an upside to having multiple due dates on the same day— completing it all at once instead of having it painfully drawn out. 

5. The rise of library-coughers 

Walk into any library on Grounds and you will hear a chorus of constant coughing and sneezing. I get it — it is so easy to get sick in college, and we have all been there before. However, there should be some etiquette to handling the persistent and mysterious illness that lingers for the whole semester. Perhaps donning a mask before parking yourself in a library to cough for hours is a good start. 

6. The omni-present stress culture only increases

There is nothing quite like the common refrain of “I only got two hours of sleep last night!” that enrages me. When did it become a competition to see who got the least amount of sleep? The twisted competition of who is the most stressed is pervasive, and it is really strange. If you can, enjoy your early bedtime while everyone else pulls an all-nighter. From my experience, going to bed is more often than not the better choice. 

7. A single assignment suddenly feels high stakes 

It has always amazed me how I can attend classes every day for a whole semester, and despite this consistent and sustained effort, my grade is determined by only a few assignments. Turning in a paper in September that will determine 25 percent of my final grade in a course can feel daunting. If I could choose, I would prefer having multiple smaller assignments that give you an opportunity to figure out how a professor grades. 

8. The leniency of “it’s only the beginning of the semester” slowly disappears

I am sure you have heard at least one of your professors irritatedly tell the class that “we have been doing this for six weeks now!” Alas, the lovely cushion of citing the beginning of the year as being the reason you missed a reading or incorrectly formatted a discussion post has reached its expiration date. This is a notable turning point in the semester, and it is one that can be tough to swallow. On the bright side, this means we are inching closer to the finish line of the semester.

9. Strictly participation grades only work to compound the stress

I am a huge supporter of having active and engaging discussions in-class — it makes the learning process more vibrant. I, however, despise strict participation grades. As someone who sometimes feels shy in class, it can be frustrating to compete for discussion points with my classmates. There are so many other ways to participate in a course beyond dominating a discussion — being a good listener, coming prepared and submitting work on-time are all aspects of good participation in my book.

10. The bottom line — midterms are difficult.

Let’s face it — I am stressed right now, and I am sure you are too. Complaining about my workload usually helps me feel marginally better. I am wishing you a successful midterms season and giving you permission to complain about it along the way — sometimes that is the only way to get through it.