Semester stretches on for students, faculty with late finals

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Friday marks the last class day of the semester, and while some students are eating their last meals at Jester City Limits and stuffing their belongings into their parents’ cars, others must stay for another week and a half of finals — creating additional stress for students and faculty.

Final exams, which take place May 9 through 12 and on May 14 and 15, are scheduled according to when classes are scheduled during the week. All classes that meet at a certain time are assigned a default final exam date and time.

Assistant registrar Priscilla White said the schedule is rotated each semester so exam dates are shifted and fair for everyone, and faculty can choose to hold exams differently from their default time.

“We allow professors to request a change in their exam period,” White said. “It just has to be approved through their academic unit, and if it gets approved, we make the change. While people default into those last few days, they don’t have to stay there.”

Lecturer David Donaldson has taught Media Law in the Moody College of Communication since 2009. Donaldson said the final for his class tends to fall on the last exam day. This year, he requested a room for students who want to take the exam early on Friday, in addition to offering the final on its original date, May 15.

“Normally I would do it on the 15th, and the students would just have to suck it up, but I had so many people (express concern),” Donaldson said. “It’s just such a long time from the last class to the final that I decided I’d like to try it.”

Lecturer James Patterson, who teaches Introduction to Classical Mythology in the College of Liberal Arts, also holds a final May 15. Patterson said he understands student frustration, but exams are a necessary evil, and students must be held accountable for their attendance.

“You have to plan to be there through the end and then if the final is scheduled earlier, that’s really cool and you get time off,” Patterson said.

Chemistry junior Reghan Conrey, a student in Patterson’s mythology class, said she will go home to Houston before returning to UT for her only final this semester. Conrey said she had to turn down a summer internship with New York University which would have began on May 7, in part due to scheduling conflicts such as her May 15 final.

“I had to switch around my whole summer plans,” Conrey said. “I asked the professor if we could move the final, and he said no because he’s worried about (breaking rules).”

Patterson said while he looked into moving the final, he was unable to find a way which would accommodate the whole course.

Patterson said the end of the semester is a hectic time for faculty as well as students because instructors must turn in final grades by a specific date assigned by the University while also preparing for summer sessions and delving into their research.

“In the turnaround of three days, you have … not only those blue books to grade but (the job of) calculating the final grade for each individual student,” Patterson said. “I hope students understand it’s a nightmare time for us as well.”