Exam scheduling needs to be revamped

Years ago, I remember being constantly told about the wonders of entering university and all the ways that it is better than high school. Among many claims, such as that in university you have more freedom and you are in a position to discover yourself and your life path, one sticks out: longer vacations.

From the perspective of a high school student, what could be better? Four months of summer break instead of two months, three to four weeks of winter break instead of two weeks. Looking back, I realize that things aren’t exactly as they seemed.

Aside from the fact that many university students have to work through their four-month summers in order to pay for increasingly expensive tuition, longer winter breaks are evidently an outright myth.

Contrary to the stories I heard back in high school about three to four weeks off in December and January, I find myself this year with a total of eleven days off. I didn’t get home until the evening of Dec. 23. My cousin, in high school, recently complained that she only gets two weeks off, in reality eighteen days when counting long weekends. It seems that the grass is always greener on the other side.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out for the worst. Some students do get lucky with their exam schedules and finish early, getting upwards of three weeks of break. But for the rest of us, stuck on the lonely campus until the very last day, all we can do is gripe about the fact that we no longer have enough time to get away from the cold winter and take a vacation somewhere warm.

The reason that Laurier’s exam period was so cramped this semester, with exams even scheduled on Sundays, is that our semester started late. While we usually start a few days later than many other universities due to our unusually long Orientation Week for first-year students, this year classes started a full week later than some universities. The schedule resulted not only in some students having short breaks, but also in exams being unusually close together. While we can always rely on the three exams in 24 hours deferral rule, it isn’t very fun to have four exams in the span of three days, spread out just enough to avoid qualifying for a deferral.

The consequence of such an intense exam schedule is that many students found themselves unprepared for their final exams. Desperate times called for desperate measures and many students made their way to health services to pay for a doctor’s note for a deferral, whether or not the reason was legitimate.

On top of that, for the students who were stuck on campus until the last day of exams, there was a distinct lack of food options on campus. Both the Dining Hall and the Terrace closed down a few days prior to the end of exams, leaving many students hungry. For upper year students living off-campus, this isn’t the end of the world, since most of us don’t have meal plans and instead do our own shopping. But during exam period, shopping and cooking takes up precious studying time and it’s often much more convenient to just pick something up on campus. And for first year students who rely on their meal plans, what options were left? Kraft Dinner and Ramen noodles only go so far.

I think most students would have been much happier to start the semester a few days earlier in line with their friends at other universities if this meant having a reasonable winter break and enough time to study properly for exams. I certainly would prefer to be lying on the beach right now than complaining about being stuck in the cold.

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