Climactic Finals


t is that time of season once again… Finals. I am always faced with this dilemma: Is it better to study for finals and take them? Or is it better to give finals and then grade them. Well, as a former student who loved being a student, I must say that taking a final is better than giving one.

In college, finals are the peak of any semester. All term long, you study, you learn. You prepare for a project, get ready for quizzes. You work hard on a paper and cram for the midterm. All this as you work towards finals. During finals week, you brew countless pots of coffee, burn the midnight oil AND the candle at both ends. You stress, you worry, you cram some more cursing at yourself for not having kept up during the semester. Then tense, wired, you sit for an exam. The questions are a blur, and yet your answers explode from your fingertips, all-knowing, confident. And in a couple of hours you are done. Good, bad or ugly, it doesn’t matter. It is over, and the effect is orgasmic. I’m finished, you want to scream.

Sound like hell? Well, believe me–and I speak from experience–it is far better than the other side of finals.

I spend many hours creating an exam that students will finish in just a few. And that’s not the worst of it. When a final exam ends, when students reach their semesters’ climax, I am there to collect and evaluate what they have spewed out. This takes countless more hours, and it is not always a pretty site. It is, in a word, anti-climactic–or is that two words?

But I am not here to complain. I am here to grade, grade… and grade, trying my best to view each student’s work in the best possible light, giving them the benefit of every doubt I may have. And when I am finished with one stack, I will move to the next and grade some more.

Ah, the life of a college professor. I wish I were my students…