“I don’t know why we’re always so stressed these days,” I overheard recently from a group of first-years studying at Davis Library. I do: It’s midterm season.
At UNC, that translates to the approximately two-month period in which students are forced to cram for the countless exams they’ll be facing in each class. It’s no secret that amongst the UNC student body, anxiety runs rampant. The flurry of back-to-back exams, most of them heavily weighted and labeled “midterms” could have something to do with it.
Here at UNC, our classes run along the semester schedule. Full-time students must attend at least four three-credit hour courses per semester, and are subjected to differing exam schedules according to each professor’s whims. The problem? There is no set “midterm period." Students aren’t given a specific period of time during which they can expect a set of midterms to be given per class. While UNC annually produces a final exam schedule within its academic calendar, no such thing exists for midterms throughout the semester.
There is also no UNC policy regarding the number of midterms a professor can apply in their courses, meaning that a student can expect their grade to be composed of several heavily-weighted “midterm” exams along with their final exam.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a midterm test is an examination that occurs at “the middle of an academic term.” When is this defined “middle” period in our academic semesters? UNC’s Department of Student Affairs motto is: “Fostering student learning and success.” How can this be achieved when overworked and overwhelmed students are forced to juggle an ambiguous series of exams for each of their classes? Without this defined “middle term” dedicated to midterm exams, many students, including myself, easily become prey to a variety of mental health issues, like anxiety and depression.