Student Views on Virtual Finals and the Culmination of this Online Semester

Stacey Kaliabakos ‘23

Features Editor

2020 has been quite the tumultuous year for college students. Navigating the rough sea of an entirely virtual fall semester has been exhausting for everyone, but the largest wave left to overcome is fast approaching: the dreaded finals week. This week of relentless examinations, papers, and projects is meant to serve as the perfect culmination to a semester in which everyone has been stuffed to the brim with knowledge. Typically, the week can be stressful, but it’s often made better by the multitude of coping strategies students devise to deal with their stress, like group studying or coffee breaks. However, this semester, the daunting weeks ahead will be faced by students mostly on their own. Additionally, the entire procedure and preparation for online exams and assessments are wildly different than those that take place in person, which is undoubtedly intimidating and worrying at best. After gathering input from fellow students, it became clear that others share my views on online exams. Here’s what sophomores Paul Topazio, Eric Fenn, and Antonio Ricco have to say about the situation.

Graphic design by Valentina Moran ’23.

Paul: We’re all understandably nervous with finals around the bend, and the online formatting certainly isn’t keeping morale high or keeping students as focused as they might be for the end of this semester. But despite this, I urge everyone to keep their head in the game and pull through for these next few weeks. The workload by this time of the year always feels excessive, but there’s no benefit in lamenting every waking moment. Consider that the semester is almost done, and Christmas break is right around the corner. Take all that you’ve learned these past few months, and even if you haven’t been on your A-game, hit the books, and get the gears rolling again. 

Eric: The days flow by with nearly nothing to distinguish their passing. Recorded lecture after recorded lecture, Zoom call after Zoom call. Any separation between home and work has long since dissolved, our livelihoods compressed into the span of a few rooms. We are reduced to a bundle of raw, unsheathed nerves firing ceaselessly over dull, familiar pangs of fear, doubt, anxiety, and depression. This is the life of a modern student: a bleary-eyed circus animal who sleeps, defecates, and dances all in the same 20ft by 20ft cage. Finals are fast approaching. The long weeks of half-digested material are doing little to serve us now. Out of no lack of effort or intelligence of our own, we are about to fight in our education’s most difficult round to date with both our hands tied behind our backs. Needless to say, none of us feel very good about it.

Antonio: As our fall semester comes to a close, I find myself becoming more and more concerned with finals. I’m sure that this is true for all students, but online finals are just another source of stress for me this fall semester. Finals are stressful by themselves, but adding in technical issues and the lack of access to libraries and professors can make studying and finals a difficult task for many students. But, despite these concerns, I feel that my professors have put a lot of effort into making this finals season as organized and stress-free as possible. Many of them have been flexible with the times we can take finals, and have even changed the format of the exams to cater to students’ suggestions. Overall, I just hope that my finals week will go smoothly.

Ultimately, as Holy Cross students, we are fortunate to have professors who understand and sympathize with our plights this month. It is important to take advantage of the tools we have at our disposal, such as office hours, to help us through finals. With winter break only a couple of weeks away, keep your chins up, Crusaders, and best of luck on your exams.

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