Lauren Meyer ’24 is planning to major in anthropology and minor in history. Outside of the Flat Hat, Lauren is a member of Swim Club and is also an avid Swiftie. Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
Ah, finals season. The bane of my existence and the object of absolutely zero of my desires. As a college student, it is hardly shocking that I do not like finals. Stress, minimal sleep and studying? No thank you. I understand the need for finals. I really do. We, as students, get to show off all of the fresh new knowledge we’ve gained. Huzzah. But what if we made finals less of a hassle?
Introducing: Final Exam Grade Limits. That’s right. Instead of stressing about your final being worth 40% of your overall grade, in this funky FEGL world, finals cannot be worth more than 25%. Imagine this utopia. Are finals still important? Yes. Do you still study and work hard? You betcha! But are you crying and rocking back and forth on the third floor of Earl Gregg Swem Library after realizing you are certifiably screwed on an exam worth almost half of your grade? Hopefully not!
In any other part of the year, having multiple assignments due at the same time is a prime target for student complaints and anguish, but during finals it’s expected. Not only that, but finals typically count as the single greatest contribution to overall grades. Multiply that by four or five classes and the infamy of a good old-fashioned finals breakdown makes sense. But why should we allow this to continue happening?
Finals “week” lasts 10 days at the College of William and Mary, which is less than 10% of the overall semester. So why should one exam count for the majority of the grade for a class that lasts the whole semester? In reducing the weight of final exams through FEGLs, professors would have to shift their grade breakdowns to account for work done throughout the semester, hopefully alleviating pressure at the end of the year. Plus, in doing so, students would have to hold themselves more accountable as well– steadily working and studying for various exams and projects throughout the year instead of cramming at the last minute.
I’m not saying we should abolish finals, or that FEGLs would magically make finals worries disappear. However, with FEGLs, there would hopefully be a better balance between finals as a major factor in a grade breakdown (25% is no chump change) while also alleviating strain on students’ psyches.
Now, if I may, a caveat: this argument mostly applies to final exams, not final papers or projects. I think it’s reasonable, if a student is in a class where they’ve been working towards a final product like a thesis or otherwise large-scale project, that the assignment will be worth a considerable portion of the grade. Obviously, if you’re working on something throughout the semester and a class is structured in that way, and a lot of work has been put into it, the weight of a grade should reflect that.
In conclusion: FEGLs are fun. FEGLs are flirty. So, envision a FEGL future. One where you open your syllabi at the beginning of each semester and don’t die a little (or a lot) inside when you see a final worth 40%. One where, when someone in your hall keeps you up for hours blasting “Poker Face” on repeat the night before your final, you want to kill them 15% less for your lost sleep. FEGLs are a small, doable change that will hopefully make finals less of a soul-sucking enterprise. The possibilities of a FEGL future are, as Sharpay Evans would say, fabulous.
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