Although finals week is still two weeks away, many students are beginning to feel the pressures of professors as they cram tests, papers and projects in before deadline. I know that I have numerous tests, presentations and papers due next week, barely leaving any time to study for the actual final exams. Yet some schools do things differently, and USF should consider taking more control over this time period.
In 2000, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) implemented a policy called “dead week.” Dead week occurs the week before finals, when professors are prohibited from giving tests or quizzes to free up time for students to study for their upcoming exams.
According to its official Web site, Georgia Tech’s Undergraduate Student Government has a system online to report professors who do not follow the dead week guidelines. Dead week is designed to allow students time and freedom to focus solely on their exams.
USF should follow in the steps of Georgia Tech and adopt a similar policy. For many, the week before finals week is just as bad as finals week itself, and hardworking students deserve a break that will ensure their academic success. If USF is working toward the overall well-being of its students, it should consider having its own dead week to give students a chance to recharge, recuperate and study.
Studying for finals is hectic enough, but the added symptoms of stress can create a recipe for academic, physical and emotional failure. The exterior symptoms of stress include “stuttering and other speech difficulties, crying for no apparent reason, acting impulsively, startling easily, laughing in a high pitch and nervous tone of voice, grinding teeth (or) increasing smoking,” according to the counseling services at the University of Buffalo. Also, those who are stressed often have low self-esteem and feel anxious, scared, irritable and/or moody.
A student who is acting and feeling this way is not likely to do well on a final exam – especially if it’s for a class that is already difficult for him or her.
The academic success of many students is contingent on the grades earned during finals week. A student’s whole collegiate career can hang on these few assigned letters. Many students have scholarships to keep wich require certain GPA’s, and without these scholarships they would not be able to stay in college.
Others need to maintain their GPAs so another outside source – parents, other relatives, etc. – will continue to pay for their college education. Whatever the reason, these five letters of the alphabet are extremely important and can make or break most students.
Having a dead week will not only make things easier for students, it will relax them, making them less likely to suffer from stress-related symptoms. They will be more likely to perform better on their exams because they had more time to study, without having feelings of hopelessness or finding themselves drawn to mind-altering substances to take the edge off.
Stress is a real problem, especially in the collegiate setting. Although ultimately the individual student is responsible for himself or herself, the University should take responsibility in this situation. The status of being a university demands this.
A university is supposed to engender a safe learning environment. The symptoms of stress are not safe, nor do they contribute to the learning environment. If USF implemented a dead week, it would be working toward the health and safety of its students.
It could even help raise students’ GPAs. If USF is willing to mandate freshmen to live on campus and mandate Friday classes to raise GPA rates, it should be willing to help de-stress its students.
Amy Mariani is a sophomore majoring in mass communications