Jeremy Côté


The Great Squeeze

No matter how fantastic it feels to be nearing the end of another semester, there is always this other feeling present during the last few weeks. It is a feeling all students are familiar with: the great squeeze.

It begins about three weeks out from the end of the semester. Around this point, the students start to notice deadlines. Dates that seemed irretrievably far away now loom closer. Assignments that would be easily completed with consistent work are now brought to the front of the mind.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. In addition to having assignments due, there are tests that march ever closer. One for each class. Personally, that means three to four “big” tests at the end of the year.

But there is an additional consideration: end of year exams. In the sciences, we generally have three to four tests in each class, followed by a final exam. As such, there ends up being a period at the end of a semester where one needs to not only worry about one test, but two. To make matters even more dire, the final exam encompasses all the semester’s material, meaning students have to “re-learn” the old content in a relatively short amount of time.

This is the reality of the student during these final few weeks. It’s a time of trying to absorb as much material as one possibly can, and be able to demonstrate it during the tests. In short, it’s a time filled with stress.

On the flip side, teachers also have an interesting final few weeks. For them, they usually have to deal with one big deadline: the final day to input marks. The days leading up to this date are filled with frantic correcting, trying to comb through hundreds of students.

Additionally, they must also correct any other assignments and tests that have been finished. Remember the students trying to get their heads around two tests within a short interval in the same class? Those teachers have to get those all corrected and back to the students (particularly for the first test, in order to let the students study for the final).

Amidst the studying and correcting, classes still go on. With three weeks left, there’s still twenty percent of the semester left. That means there is much left to teach the students, despite it being the end of the semester. Therefore, the pressure to cram the rest of the class’ content in the next few weeks is high. At the beginning of the semester, distractions weren’t too big of a problem. However, as the end nears, the amount of time allotted to distractions and tangents must decrease.

Despite the end of the semester representing a well-deserved break, it is a time of difficulty for both teachers and students. The final hump, if you will. What this means is that it’s nearly impossible to really enjoy the end of the semester, because there is always another test to prepare for.

And then, it’s suddenly all over. This is the reality of an end of semester. It’s always a slow build to the end, before suddenly shooting up in stress and work during those final weeks. That is the great squeeze, and it’s a feeling every single teacher and student is intimately familiar with.