POINT: USC should treat midterms like finals with scheduling

We’re officially almost done with the ninth week of the semester, also the peak of midterm season for most USC students. However, for many students, we’ve been at this peak since around week five. Without a consistently defined midterm week, many students are subjected to a never-ending series of stressful exams that span the majority of the semester. Establishing two specific midterm weeks would ensure students have a lighter courseload in the time leading up to midterms, as well as adequate time to de-stress afterwards.

Last week, I had two midterm exams and projects. After spending most of the week feverishly working, all I wanted to do this weekend was catch up on Netflix and sleep. Instead, I immediately had to shift gears into studying for my next two midterms.

Creating official “midterm weeks” around the one-third and two-thirds dates of the semester would condense the midterm season, allowing students to actually take a break in between exams. While this would definitely make those two weeks particularly stressful, it also would ease the burden of the other 13 weeks of the semester.

With two designated midterm weeks, professors would be able to plan their schedules accordingly, resulting in a lighter course load in the weeks immediately before and after midterm week. I’ve had several professors say things like, “I wanted to schedule this assignment for after you all finished midterms in other classes, but you all have different midterm dates so that’s impossible.”

Having established midterm dates would solve this problem, ensuring that you don’t need to waste any time completing busy work and regular homework assignments when you should be studying for midterms.

Students would still be able to prioritize their work schedule; many already are juggling conflicting midterm dates with a variety of projects, papers, and exams. Students may not be able to space out their work schedule across different deadlines, but they still could choose to prioritize one midterm at a time, regardless of the deadline. While the current system allows students to have more time to work on projects due after midterms, a system with established exam weeks could save them time to work on all midterms.

Currently, when studying for a midterm (or several), students also juggle random assignments in other classes, and do not begin studying for one midterm until they are finished with the more pressing ones. A system of two midterm weeks would save time, since students wouldn’t need to wait until they get through one midterm to move onto the next. And since most professors don’t give difficult assignments leading up to a midterm, if all classes were about to have midterms, none of the classes would have difficult assignments, creating an unofficial dead week. In this way, students could prepare for midterms without the distraction of other assignments, or other midterms that they need to get through first.

Most importantly, this system would provide students with a much-needed mental break following their midterms. While students obviously wouldn’t be able to completely check out the way they can after finals, they could actually take a breath and have time to relax, knowing that there aren’t more midterms immediately around the corner. The weekend and week following midterm weeks would provide students with valuable time to focus on self-care and catching up on sleep, something that is severely lacking with USC’s current method of almost-weekly midterms. Though midterm weeks would be highly stressful, students also would have more time to destress.

A bonus of this system is that it would help student organizations with planning important dates. It is likely that students in clubs and organizations are constantly forced to miss meetings or retreats in order to prepare for upcoming midterms. It currently is impossible for organizations to solve this issue, since on any given week, students are taking midterms. If students all had their midterms at the same time, organizations would know to avoid planning important events during those weeks.

Midterms are undoubtedly the worst. Spending less time during the semester worrying about them could make them a little bit better. It’s like ripping off a band-aid — it’s better to quickly get midterms over with, instead of dragging them out and allowing them to taint the entire semester.

Erin Rode is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism and political science. “Point/Counterpoint” runs Wednesdays.