opinion   |   column

Dead week should just be another week

Nothing in college is more synonymous with stress than finals week. Finals week is seen as the culmination of everything we’ve been working toward over the course of the semester.

But that has always seemed weird to me. I have always experienced finals week as the least stressful week of the semester.

Maybe it’s because I study theater and jazz studies. A number of theater and music classes have performances as their final exams, and instructors need to schedule them over the course of the last couple weeks of the semester to accommodate everyone.

But still, I have my fair share of final exams. I spend most of my time sitting at home during finals week because classes are canceled and extracurricular activities — a major responsibility for many IU students — have all wound down by that point in the semester.  

Of course I have to study, but since the information is usually cumulative, I usually only need to refresh my memory, rather than cram my memory with new knowledge. The amount of time I save from classes being canceled allows me to do all the studying I need to do.  

Then there’s dead week. No one can really say definitively why it’s called dead week — some will insist it’s because nothing is due, so students have virtually nothing to do. Others insist it’s because students have so much to do that we’re practically dead by the end of it.

My experience of dead week varies from semester to semester, depending on how my instructors perceive it. 

Sometimes I have instructors who are under the false impression the University bars them from setting any due dates during dead week. Other times, instructors deliberately set due dates during dead week because they think they’re relieving our stress by getting things out of the way before finals week.

In my opinion, dead week should be treated the same as any other week. Assignments should be no more and no less.

Often, the most stressful part of ending the semester is papers and projects, rather than sit-down exams.

For classes that have papers, projects or take-home exams as their finals, instructors should make those due during finals week because it is much less stressful to turn the assignments in once the day is not filled with class meetings and extracurricular activities. When possible, finals belong in finals week. That’s what finals week is for.

The array of attitudes instructors have about dead week and finals week makes for a different experience every semester. Sometimes, even the week before dead week ends up being the most stressful one of the semester.

The end of the semester is the most manageable when instructors don’t try to front-load due dates to help us get everything out of the way early. The easiest time to get things done is when we’re actually supposed to get it done.

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