Did you say midterm?

Feb 262007
Authors: Deanne St. John The Daily Vidette

(U-WIRE) NORMAL, Ill. – Midterms are upon us, already. Sheesh. It’s like time started speeding up once I came to college.

Being an English major I think has got to be the hardest when it comes to midterms and finals. Don’t get me wrong I am in love with my major, but it’s no picnic.

A lot of people will say how lucky I am to only have to write papers, but I say no way. While papers for an English major are like algebra problems to a math major they aren’t the easiest to whip out at any old time.

Time, thought and a lot of effort go into writing even a C paper. I would know. College English courses are a lot harder than high school English classes. In high school you read a few books, do a few presentations and write maybe one paper a year.

I’m writing a paper for one of my classes every day so that’s twice a week not including my other three classes. I’m not trying to get anyone to feel bad or think I’m complaining I’m just saying it’s not what I expected.

While writing is a good part of the English experience I can’t help but wonder about something one of my professors said to me. She said, “Reading is so much more important than writing at this point in your career.”

Now if that’s true then why do we have to write so much and read so little? I don’t understand how professors think we can handle it all sometimes.

I get the feeling a lot of them think their class is the only one we are in and just keep piling on the homework like there’s no tomorrow. I hope any of my professors out there reading this aren’t offended because for once I love you all and would hate to have you not love me.

Back to the idea of thinking paper midterms and finals are a piece of cake. Let me tell you that for one, no, and two, are you crazy?

First off I don’t think a week is enough time for anyone to write a paper based on what they have learned in half a semester. Second, I need a week to at least let the information simmer while I decide what I even want to write about.

Sometimes I think professors don’t give out the assignment until a week before because he or she believes the students will work on it and not pay attention in class or start it too soon or whatever it is they think. I can tell you though that happens probably less often than they think.

I think we should be given the midterm at the beginning of the semester so we can take better notes and formulate better questions for class discussions. Then this way we can write better papers for our midterms. Then around midterms we should receive the final information so we can start preparing for that.

I think most people here are aware of how a college student works. Take fall semester for example. You have Thanksgiving break to look forward to and then winter break. Not many students have much motivation left by the time those breaks come around to study very hard.

If we had the information available to us earlier in the semester we could prepare, and, I believe, do better on exams.

The only downside to being an English major opposed to say a math major is that we have very few grades in an entire semester that keep us afloat. While I for one hated math classes I at least had 20-30 assignments to do that in the event I screwed up one I knew it was all right. In English classes, if you do poorly on one paper you are pretty much in the hole.

I propose some new way of keeping students involved in class discussions, more opportunities for grades and midterm information available sooner. With all these things I think English students would feel a lot less stressed and a little more comfortable in their classes.

I like to think these things would be beneficial, but I don’t want people to think I’m asking for busy work. That in no way makes a difference. We aren’t in high school anymore so why are we still writing dinky little papers? I also think reading a chapter a day is a little crazy too but I can see where it’s coming from.

Hopefully this will reach the right person and all the English majors out there can rest a little easier knowing their life doesn’t hang on one or two grades for an entire semester.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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