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Bhushan Deshpande | Words of Wisdom

What little time remains

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 02:12

This point in the semester is always a bit weird. We get back from a lovely five-day Thanksgiving break, and all of a sudden we’re thrust into a whirlwind of very rapidly having to do all the work neglected over the course of the semester.

It seems worse this year. Maybe that’s just a whining senior’s perspective?

True, but apparently, it is actually worse this year. This is the only semester in the past four years where we have only had 10 days — six class days, two weekend days and two reading period days — between Thanksgiving break and the start of finals period. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, we had 16, 17 and 17 days, respectively, in between the two. That’s a huge difference. So, what happened this year?

It’s a rather simple explanation actually. Nov. 1 was on a Friday, so the fourth Thursday of November 2013 was as late as it could possibly be: Nov. 28. It’s a simple explanation, but it feels inherently unsatisfying. A quirk of the calendar does not mean that I am anywhere near prepared to be taking my public policy final exam today.

And as it turns out, it would be completely easy to give us a little bit of extra time before finals. An extra day of reading period would still allow us to have move-out day before Christmas, by having it over the weekend or that Monday, and it would be even easier most weeks. However, according to the Student Services website, the academic calendar is apparently set in stone through 2020.

Considering that a number of students who have been highly involved with the administration in their time here whom I know were completely unaware of how it’s determined, I think it’s fair to say the process for determining the calendars is opaque at best. I believe that a faculty committee comes up with the calendars years in advance, but certainly whoever did it failed to take into account a realistic student schedule.

As the Daily briefly noted in its editorial on Monday, finals basically begin this week. Many students have last midterms that replace the final exam and final papers or projects due before the last day of classes. That means that as soon as students arrive back on campus, having had to endure immediate and extended family for five days, they are forced to jump straight back into a terrible week of final assessments and last-minute studying. Or, I guess they might have been “lucky” and self-disciplined enough to make themselves do work over break, giving them a moderately decent final week of classes.

I told myself this break that I would do work.

That obviously didn’t happen.

Professors should be willing to recognize that this trend is going to hold true for the vast majority of students. It is perfectly acceptable to hold students to high standards, but at least give us a little bit of time to produce our best work. It would be nice if at least some professors were willing to give a little bit of slack in these years when we only have a week in between Thanksgiving and finals, and either assign papers well before break or have them due during finals period itself. Grades aren’t due until early January. I’m fine with waiting until then for them if I can get a reasonable amount of time to actually work on the assignments that contribute to them.


Bhushan Deshpande is a senior who is majoring in quantitative economics. He can be reached at

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