Final exams are always a stressful time for college students, as it never seems like there is enough time to adequately prepare. This semester, finals begin on Dec. 13 and classes end on Dec. 11, giving students only one day to prepare for exams. This is worse than the fall 2017 semester, when classes ended on Dec. 8 and Finals began on Dec. 12. Even though there was only one official “study day,” students still had time during the weekend between classes ending and Final exams to study. Now, students who have an assignment or final paper due right before the scheduled start of the final examination period have no real opportunity to dedicate their time solely toward preparing for their final assessment. Other schools, such as Yale University, have a week-long study period. Similarly, Columbia University and Cornell University both have four days dedicated to studying, something that has been consistent throughout past academic years. Anything is better than the one day that Brandeis offers. This board suggests that the University give students at least four days — which can include weekends — to study so that students have time to properly prepare for their finals. 

In order to make this change feasible, the academic year would have to begin earlier; for example, the first day of the semester could be on a Monday rather than a Wednesday or Thursday. This would not only accommodate the desire for a study week, but also make up for the number of educational days missed at the beginning of the semester due to holidays. Some professors fail to properly account for the holidays and use the syllabus from their prior year. However, this inadequate preparation leads to missed class days. This leaves the professor with two options: They can either reschedule lectures at a later date or just not teach the material at all. Whichever option is chosen, students are at a disadvantage. If the school year were to start earlier, professors would have all of the time needed to complete their curriculum and students would actually have the time they need to study or finalize papers or projects. Additionally, this would eliminate the need to try to fit as much material as possible into the last week of classes. 

Another issue with the structure of final exams is the disregard for humanities students. Students who have three exams in a 24-hour period have the ability to reschedule an exam. However, There is no such support for those who might have three lengthy papers due in one day. Both take a significant amount of time to prepare for and require special attention. This board suggests that the University extend the same accommodations to the humanities, because papers often have their own set of complications and can be equally as stressful as exams are. 

While this board acknowledges that additional days in a semester might pose a small increase in costs for the University — for housing and meals in particular — the potential benefits to student health far outweigh the minuscule cost increase. If the University truly cares about student health, as it claims to, considering a longer study period would be a true demonstration of the proclaimed concern.