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Hi everyone!

Yesterday was my last day of classes for winter term. This weekend I have finals, and by Monday evening, I will officially be done. While I am happy to have another term under my belt, the last days of the term are bittersweet. I always feel a little sad to know that I won’t have the same class–and possibly the same professors or classmates–again.

To celebrate the end of the term, I’ll share my experience this week with last classes and finals.

But first…

I wrote a version of this post last year. It’s a bit crazy to read back, because it was finals week last year when Carleton officially went online. The post was published on March 16, 2020, meaning we’re right around the one year anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic in the United States. At least this term’s finals period is much less eventful!

Moving on…

The Last Classes

My last days of class were really nice! Because Carleton has a Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday schedule, most students (including me) have two last days each term.

Tuesday marked the last class of my Human Reproduction and Sexuality course, during which we finished the material and addressed lingering questions from the term. At the end of the class, my professor brought in two of his snakes(!) for the in-person students to hold. I am… not a big fan of snakes… but since I’m taking the class online, Zoom created a nice, safe barrier between them and me.

Wednesday was the last day of my Modern American Literature and Cross-Cultural Studies courses. In Modern American Literature, we had a quiz bowl, which was really fun. We split up into teams, each with our own captain and team name, and competed by answering trivia on the literature and authors we read throughout the term. Although the competition was pretty intense, my team won in the end. That was a major highlight!

In my Cross-Cultural Studies course, we presented our final projects, which were creative autobiographical works. It was a really nice way to end the class, as it was an opportunity for each student to share a cross-cultural experience in a way that reflected their personality. We also had the chance to take a class picture over Zoom:

Zoom Class Photo

The last days were a fitting close to a wonderful term!

The Finals Period

What do finals look like at Carleton?

I briefly covered this last year, but here’s a recap:

At Carleton, the last day of class is officially the last Wednesday of the term. That week, Thursday and Friday are designated reading days, so that students have time to prepare for their finals. Saturday through Monday are the finals days, during which professors schedule exams or, if they don’t have an exam, set a due date for the final paper or project.

Speaking of which, the finals format varies significantly at Carleton depending on the professor and the department. STEM classes, for example, are more likely to have final exams, while humanities classes are more likely to have final papers. Some classes might have a final project, such as a presentation or creative work. The lucky few have something due prior to the end of the term, so that there technically isn’t a final assignment.

Since this is now my fifth finals period, I can say with much more confidence than last year that end-of-term stress completely depends on your classes. I have had finals periods with extremely time-consuming assignments for multiple classes. Others have been relatively light in terms of workload, with only a short paper per class. The amount of time I spend studying and preparing then varies from term to term. There are some terms where I’m working nonstop, and others where I can take breaks and *gasp* finish early.

What do my finals look like this term?

Luckily, this finals period is not too taxing! I mentioned the autobiographical creative project due for my Cross-Cultural Studies class. We also have an autobiographical paper to go with it, but since the creative aspect is done, the essay does not feel so daunting. Surprisingly, this is my only paper due this finals period. (Actually, this might be the first term at Carleton when I only have one final paper due. Not a bad feeling.)

While the other English courses I’ve taken have required a final paper, my Modern American Literature class does not. Instead, we’re doing a final exam. In my experience, many exams at Carleton do not have multiple choice, but short answer and essays. Personally, I prefer this format, as I tend to doubt myself with multiple choice.

My biology class also has a final exam. It’s worth noting that at Carleton, most professors allow students to self-schedule their exams. This lets you consider your study habits and travel plans, so that you can build the exam period that works best for you. Usually, when in-person, there are set time slots and each student can pick which slot to attend. Since this term is mostly remote, I can log on and take the tests at any time between Saturday and Monday, which is extremely convenient.

For me, this term’s finals format is ideal. I really like having diversity in my final assignments. While I generally prefer writing papers to taking tests, having multiple papers due can make it very difficult to budget time. This term, if I get tired of writing, I can switch to Quizlet and study for a while before switching back to writing. Perfect!

Final(s) thoughts…

Although finals can naturally be stressful, this stress is manageable. I have yet to have a course where students’ grades rely solely, or even mostly, upon the final assignment. Any stress then is a response to the workload more than a fear of flunking. Starting early and finding the schedule that works best for you are the best ways to combat anxiety at the end of the term. While I found it difficult at first to juggle the overlapping deadlines, I learned. And so will you!

Andriana is a sophomore at Carleton, where she plans to major in English and minor in Cross-Cultural Studies. Although she is spending the year at home in Richmond, VA, Andriana is already excited to return to Carleton in the fall. When she isn’t busy preparing for finals, Andriana can be found binge-reading, playing music, or watching a favorite movie or show for the umpteenth time. Meet the other bloggers!