Things I Have Learned During Finals Week

4 May

Today, my colleague in the historian’s craft posted a great piece about the most memorable answer he has seen on a final exam. It is a very funny story, and you should check it out. (Yes, funny stuff happens in the world of academics. In fact, it happens all the time.) There is no way I can top that answer, but it made me think about some of the things I have seen through the countless final exams weeks of my life.

Final exams are the culmination of months of learning by the students. It is when they take the information they have absorbed and prove that some of it stuck. But, final exam week holds a deep secret in the dark corridors of the ivory towers. It is a time for the faculty to learn something as well. Through years of grading tests and seeing people operate in the stressful environment of the last week of school, I have learned quite a bit. This is a serious and not-so-serious list of the information that I have absorbed.

(Due to federal requirements, the events that I describe are HISTORY and not the PRESENT.)

Being within 3 points of an A means that a student should get an A. (After all, close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.)

Al Capone ran for president of the United States in 1928. (I don’t know why. He was already richer and more powerful.)

Extra Credit should be given after the semester is over. (Especially if it provides the 3 points needed for an A.)

Even I, the great and powerful, can miscalculate sometimes. (I know. It’s hard for me to believe, too.)

On December 7, 1941, “a date that will live in infamy”, the empire of Japan attacked Alaska. (There wasn’t much happening in Hawaii.)

Mothers can get vicious about grades. (Even after their children have reached adulthood.)

The bookstore folks get really stressed out during finals week. (I really didn’t think they had much going with books being returned; people picking up graduation regalia; and everything else.)

Students realize they have scholarships. (And a bad grade may make that scholarship disappear.)

Franklin Roosevelt was blind when he was elected president. (I realize how someone would think this. Have you seen Eleanor?)

Retirement is bittersweet. (It’s tough to watch people leave something that they have been doing for decades.)

Speakeasies have never existed. (Maybe Al Capone wasn’t so rich and powerful after all.)

People worry about the length of the graduation ceremony. (Guys, be happy you made it and stop worrying.)

Almost everyone shows up to take their final exam. (It’s amazing really. People that you haven’t seen in months suddenly show up. It’s like the return of Gilligan or something.)

The student affairs folks already plan for next semester. (They do that. I promise. It’s like people are really on the ball.)

Napoleon Bonaparte was an American who traveled to France to help with the revolution. (I knew he was too ambitious to be French.)

Alexander Graham Bell is my ancestor. (Oh, how I wish that were true.)

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