It’s that time of year again! The fall semester is coming to an end, and finals are just around the corner. Like many students, I can’t help but feel some anxiety as we head into our last few weeks of the semester.
Even as a junior, the fear I feel about my grades and stability in my classes has never changed. As the days get shorter and much colder, it’s harder to motivate myself to stay focused on my schoolwork. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of the best incentives that teachers should offer to their students.
Granted the semester is coming to an end, but as I enroll for my classes next semester, I’m determined to start fresh. This list details some policies I hope to see in new classes to lessen some of my anxiety with classwork and finals.
Professors should offer students more assignments throughout the semester. I use the word “offer” because assignments provide students with a cushion, rather than just having four or five exams comprising the semester grade. These assignments wouldn’t have to be worth much, but they would certainly provide me with a sense of security knowing that I can make up for some of those lost points on exams with other work.
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Flexibility with Exam Grades
The lowest exam grade in the course should be dropped. I am taking statistics, and after doing terribly on an exam and somewhat well on the others, I get frustrated knowing that not a single exam can be dropped and worried about how this particular performance could impact my grade and GPA. In another course, my professor offered to let us drop our worst exam. If we are doing well by the time of our final exam, we can choose to not take it at all. That, to me, is both generous and appealing to students. I immediately gained so much respect for my professor and enjoyed going to class knowing that was offered to help me succeed.
Extra Credit in Discussion Classes
Professors and instructors should offer extra credit for discussion sections. Typically, discussion sections are held on Fridays, and, if I am being brutally honest, I rarely attend unless I know that I will get something out of it. I have found it more difficult to attend a class that is designed to go over materials covered from the previous week. If I attended the lectures, what’s the point? However, when the time comes at the end of the semester, and my grade is just short of where I want it to be, extra credit opportunities are my real savior.
Reforming Attendance Policies
Attendance should not be required. While this one may seem controversial, I have always found that my friends and I dread going to classes that count attendance for a grade. I have also seen some instructors have a tendency to dock points, even if you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from going.
As college students and newly independent young adults, the biggest lesson to be learned is responsibility. In my experience, professors who put all the responsibility of doing well in a course on me are the ones I respect the most. Many students, including myself, already understand that missing class means missing content for exams. There is no need to punish them further.
All things considered, the only motivation I can give you readers to do your best in class is to just go. Simply showing up for yourself and to class is half the battle. As cliché as it sounds, your opponent is not your professor, it's you!
Thalia Alleman (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and public relations.