Dead week needs to be reformed and expanded, a number of student newspapers argue in recent articles and editorials.
Traditionally, this short period between the end of classes and the start of final exams each semester is meant to live up to its name. There are supposed to be few, if any, course sessions, club meetings, tests, out-of-the-blue assignments or anything else interfering with student studying. As The Iowa State Daily notes, “The intent is to provide students with time for review and preparation for final examination.”
Yet, this academic nirvana of sorts is apparently mostly a myth. Most schools still schedule classes, quizzes, and homework right up until the first scheduled final. And at the few colleges and universities in which dead week is outwardly honored, a closer look reveals a timeframe unofficially littered with project due dates, make-up assignments, and sudden essay add-ons to upcoming exams.
The result, The Marquette Tribune confirms: skyrocketing stress, sleep deprivation, and students who race across campus in “a zombie-like daze.”
As a recent editorial in The Oklahoma Daily similarly observes, “If there’s one thing you’re sure to see on Facebook and Twitter in the coming days, it’s that dead week isn’t very dead.” Or as a University of Nebraska student tells The Daily Nebraskan more explicitly, “Really, dead week kills students because we have so much to do. It makes me want to scream and go running down O Street.”
According to campus papers, part of the blame rests with professors who assign too much too late in the term and administrators who don’t carve out enough time for students to prepare for GPA-altering exams.
“Students don’t need to be babied and given special treatment; they just need a fair opportunity to succeed,” The Daily Athenaeum at the University of West Virginia argues. “Some students are forced to take up to three or four finals in one day, and need as much study time as they get. The university should make sure they have plenty of it. If a student doesn’t succeed in college, it should be on his or her own accord– not because he or she didn’t have enough time to study.”
Yet, students are also targeted for their stress due to their penchant for procrastinating, including holding off on hardcore studying and completing long-term projects until dead week has dawned. As a University of Alabama health center official tells The Crimson White, “It is all about pacing yourself. It’s earth-shattering– I know– but actually learning the material as you go . . . and taking advantage of the opportunities you have along the way will help you so that when you get to the end of the semester, it’s just one more test to take.”
The bottom line, Iowa State Daily columnist Heath Verhasselt vents, “[W]e need to just chill out. We need a week for everyone, both faculty and students, to be relaxed and carefree as Finals Week nears. It would give professors plenty of time to tie up any loose ends there are as far as their research and classes are concerned. And it would give students more time to prepare for finals as they inch closer to their impending doom.”
What do you think? How does dead week play out on your campus? And what is the ideal dead week scenario for students, faculty, and administrators?
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