The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
It’s Miami University’s midterm month, a tradition that should be listed alongside kissing under Upham Arch and failing an exam after stepping on the seal. Ask any student at Miami how they’re doing right now, and they’ll give you the same answer: stressed out of their freaking minds.
Currently, there is no standardization between departments or colleges on how midterms are administered. The only requirement from the university is that professors submit their midterm class grades by Oct. 18th. But the inconsistency of midterms often means these grades often don’t accurately reflect how a student is actually doing in the class.
The lack of parameters means Miami’s midterm season tends to last the entire month of October, with students facing an overwhelming amount of assignments and — in some cases — multiple midterms for one class.
We believe Miami should have a set midterms week, structured similarly to how the university administers finals. A more structured process would provide consistency for students and professors while also allowing students to better manage their time and stress levels.
Miami’s finals are administered over the course of one week. Students are only expected to attend set exam times, which we know about months in advance, and we don’t have the added pressures of extracurriculars during that time period. Plus, we have the promise of winter or summer break to pull us through the end.
In effect, our finals schedule is structured to have built-in support for students during a stressful time.
We don’t get that for midterms.
On our staff alone, there are students that have multiple midterm exams in October or early November, along with papers and projects. One student has two seperate midterm projects due for the same class on the same day.
Due to how inconsistent and staggered midterms are, students are constantly going. There is a pressure to refrain from taking time for a break or self care out of fear your grades may suffer.
The Miami academic calendar isn’t concerned with ensuring students get a break.
Sure, fall break is advertised as a reprieve from the stress of classes, but it’s only a three-day weekend, and professors still have assessments due during that period.
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Family weekend was scheduled in the middle of the midterms craze, resulting in multiple members of our staff telling their parents not to visit because they were too busy to devote a weekend toward anything other than work.
It’s easy to feel like there’s no real institutional support when this time of year gets overwhelming. This is a busy time of year for Student Counseling Services, but they’re often flippant to the serious toll that academic stress can have on students, saying that of course they’re busy this time of year — students can’t handle their workloads. This passes the understaffed gripe off to the students who have the audacity to look for support from their university in any method available to them.
This setup perpetuates the culture of cramming. We’re constantly jumping from one thing to the next: working, studying, applying for internships, planning the future and struggling to prioritize. We’re so focused on labor and career development and how it will all impact our lives at Miami and post-grad that nothing else seems to matter.
A set midterms week would ensure that students would be able to better balance the pressures of classes, take time to alleviate their stress and be more focused in the moment.
It would also give professors flexibility in how they weigh assignments around the midterm, and wouldn’t require them to make a new assignment just to try and meet a midterm deadline. It might also mean that midterm grades are a more accurate reflection of how students are doing in their classes.
Additionally, the week could lead into fall break, so that one day off might actually hold some value to students.
Breaks are important, as are students’ health, family and social lives. By not creating an environment where students are able to prioritize all of those things, the administration is doing a disservice to its students, and we all deserve better.