Last week I came to a sudden realization that I had never written anything, or had a student write, about exams. Neither midterms nor finals. Seemed like a major oversight, since exams certainly have an impact on students’ graduate school experience. Aditi has plugged that gap by writing about the most recent round of midterms.
Spring break this semester was a much-needed pause from our busy Fletcher lives. Between midterms and various internship and job applications, all of us at Fletcher were pretty much at maxed-out levels of exhaustion!
Midterms are usually a combination of exams, presentations, and papers, depending on the classes you take. For instance, my Econometrics class had an in-class, closed-book traditional exam, while my Financial Inclusion class had a group presentation. I personally found midterms to be somewhat more stressful this semester than in the fall, since one of my classes is at the Friedman School, which follows a slightly different schedule than Fletcher. Although the advantage of the mismatched schedules was that my exams and papers were spread out over two weeks, the downside was that my “midterm week” lasted twice as long.
In addition to midterms, if you happen to be taking half-credit courses, then those classes are either beginning or ending (depending on which half of the semester they are scheduled for) while you’re trying to focus on exams. In my case, I am taking Advanced Evaluation and Learning, which takes place over the second half of the semester, so as we were studying for midterms and preparing for presentations, those of us in this class were also trying to keep our heads above water with all the assigned reading.
But of course, midterms come and go. The major stress during spring semester midterms is related to the internship and job hunt process, since everyone is trying to balance applications and interviews with their coursework, other activities, and campus jobs. It definitely began to feel like the universe had conspired to make sure all deadlines fell into the same two-week period.
In the middle of all my stress and exhaustion, a friend said something that both made me laugh and also gave me a lot of perspective, when I complained to her about how hard grad school is. “Yeah, it’s hard — but it’s hard in a really easy way. Exams, papers, and presentations…let’s compare that for a second to the issues we’re trying to learn about: Poverty, terrorism, malnutrition…. Give me grad school any day!”
So now you know why I’m complaining about midterms on this blog instead of by talking to my friends.