Finals Week: A Professor's Perspective

We all know this point in the semester very well. Between the excessive caffeine consumption and all-nighters in the library, finals week is universally a very stressful time for students. But what about our professors?

Preparing for the semester’s close with numerous papers and exams to grade has to be a little taxing. So, to better understand a teacher’s demands during this part of the semester, I interviewed Professor Alexis Briley from the German department at Colgate University. Teaching three classes, she says she prepares the final assessment for each one differently. She uses various types of assignments, ranging from a time exam to a take-home paper to a rewrite of an old paper. To prepare for finals week as a whole, Professor Briley has two priorities.

She says, “I put a lot of pressure on myself to return student work by the last week of classes so that students have a good sense of their course grade going into finals period.” In addition, she has to write the final assessment and then after students take the exam, she has to begin the grading process.

When asked if she could recognize students’ struggles at this point in the semester, she says she is very sympathetic to the challenges they are going through. She tries to keep a perspective and remind students to stay “organized, practice self-care, and take one step at a time.”

Overall, when asked if she feels the pressure and stresses of finals week, she responded, “absolutely!” Just like students, professors are exhausted by the end of the semester and are definitely ready for a break as well. She says she is sympathetic and aware of all the work her students have to accomplish, but is confident that her students are able to rise to the challenge and complete everything to the best of their abilities.

Though us students may feel as if we are swamped with an unnecessary amount of work, the end of the semester is a stressful time for professors as well. They are relatively sympathetic to the struggles we face, so their assignments are designed to challenge us and help us in the long run.

As Professor Briley says, we all just need to push through these last few caffeinated days so that we can enjoy our break that much more.