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On to Finals

Posted by on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 in Academic Life, Balance, College of Arts and Science, Commons, Diversity at Vanderbilt, Freshman Commons, Housing, Living on Campus, Nashville, Political Life at Vanderbilt, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt in Pop Culture, Vandy Athletics.

This is always an interesting time of year at Vanderbilt. Everyone has just returned from a week-long (plus two weekends) Thanksgiving Break. It’s not wise for us professors to suggest to our students that they’re going off on vacation for a week. The way our academic calendar is structured, students inevitably have some work, sometimes a lot of work due when they return.

Looming out there are final exams. We’re back in classes for a full week, and then a second week where the last class day is Thursday. A reading day follows and then final exams begin—and run for the entire next week. How to describe the mood?

For one thing, it’s early December, so it’s getting dark sooner and, while for a former Chicagoan there’s nothing here—ever—that I would call cold, there is a nip in the air. Darker and colder is one setting for thinking about finals. I’ve noticed as well that there’s more traffic in the Exercise Room at The Commons Center—in part people are working off Thanksgiving, and in part they’re working out some of the tension. Engineers can be seen in groups working on a civil engineering model designing a skyscraper that will stand and meet code specs. Students are at tutoring sessions for Calculus, or prepping BioSci or finishing a last Chem lab. Just today I’ve talked with one student who wrote an essay on the origins of mass political parties for an Elections and Politics course. Another’s writing on the impact of television watching for a Values in Modern Communications course. Lots of reading, writing, studying, and preparing. It’s on to finals.

It’s also on to Memorial Gymnasium tonight at 8:30, when our Men’s Basketball team takes on Missouri (Women’s B-ball is Friday, against Bowling Green). We’re on ESPN tonight. Memorial Madness. Memorial Gym—it shakes when it gets loud. Not to be missed.

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