While October brings crisp air, pumpkins and Halloween, on college campuses across the nation, it also brings midterms. The TVP Comms teams spent some time reminiscing this week about our worst, best and most memorable (and, for some, unmemorable) college midterms.
I attended a high school with no walls. (Don’t believe me? Look up North Andover High School in the late 90s.) Our classrooms were separated by partitions, blackboards and sometimes lockers. Each subject had one bubble classroom (an area surrounded with Plexiglas), those rooms were coveted. Because of this, when I went to college, I could study anywhere. Noisy roommates didn’t bother me, sometimes I even studied in the dining halls. But midterms and finals were different. I would bury myself in one of the stacks on the 20-something floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and would only take breaks to go outside and chug my Diet Coke and eat my Skittles. This combination of sugar and more sugar actually made me look forward those long nights in the library.
From falling asleep in the library to skipping class, see what the rest of the team has to say about their midterm memories.
Most of my college exams were essay exams, and it was always stressful to prepare for them—the topic could be anything! In hindsight, I was typically over prepared and my anxiety unwarranted simply because I had read all of the material, attended every class, and diligently took notes. After a particularly grueling study session for my English Renaissance literature class and an aced exam, I made the decision to skip the next session of the class (the first time I had every skipped a class in college) and celebrate my success with a drive to Parkers Maple Barn for pancakes—I had had enough of Elizabethan literature for the week. But to my dismay, I returned to find that we had been assigned a group project in my absence, and not only do I hate group projects, I was woefully unprepared for the presentation portion because my colleagues did not get in touch with me to do the work until two hours before the class. I didn’t willingly miss class ever again in college!
As an English major, I had more midterm papers than exams, which worked out for me because I am a horrible tester. I remember one semester in particular while working on a paper related to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I fell asleep in the library. It was mid-afternoon. I was curled up like a cat in front of a sun-filled window in an oversize armchair excited about all the work I was going to get done. (I think this may have been the only nap I have ever taken, like ever. Timing wasn’t ideal.) Believe it or not, no one had cell phones yet, and having slept through dinner, my friends had sent out a search party to find me. I woke up well-rested, but so mad at myself for losing all of that time. Regardless, that paper, which actually had to be pulled together quite quickly, was one of my favorites and the novel remains among my favorites too.
For some reason, I don’t have really vivid memories of midterms and the attendant stress. The only thing I can come up with is sitting in study rooms with friends in my first year residence hall. I felt like I was surely getting so much great studying done, somehow, despite all the chatter and the unfettered consumption of Diet Cokes. I’m not sure my actual grades reflected my perception, though first semester freshman year was the only time I made the dean’s list. I’d like to think that my study skills improved over my four years, but I’m also glad that those first-year friendships lasted throughout my time on campus and beyond.
I don’t remember anything special about midterms, in part because I was one of those people who pulled all-nighters for my exams and then had to spend the week following midterms catching up on my sleep. I do remember, though, that I was the only one of my friends to have internet access (dial up) AND a laser color printer, so my room was always really popular with anyone who wanted their papers to look fancy with color text in Papyrus or Comic Sans font.