The midterm slump

Column by Hallie Beard, Junior from Louisville, Ky.

Midterms: everything is made up and the points don’t matter.

If I were to approach a random student in the Quad and say, “The lowest points of my life have been during fall midterms,” they probably wouldn’t doubt me.

I can’t be the only one who dreads early October in college, or as I like to call it, the Midterm Slump.

There’s no denying it: the Slump is a doozy and much worse than spring semester midterms. Rest assured, though – you will survive this one as you’ve survived all Slumps past, if you’ve been in college for more than a semester. If this is your first one, enjoy the challenge. They won’t get any easier, but take it from me: you will get better at managing the madness.

Now is a tough time to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel, but think of it this way: any terrible midterm experience you’ve already had is in the past and filed away as a learning curve. For me, that was last year.

From day one, fall semester sucker-punched me in the gut and showed no mercy. By the time midterms reared their ugly head, I thought I might somehow die.

I remember driving to a rehearsal dinner the night before homecoming, crying at the thought of writing an essay for a two-part midterm that was due at midnight. Barely having read the hundreds of pages of Romantic era British literature for the assignment, I was in no shape to simply “wing it” after a night of visiting with family and friends. It seems ridiculous now, but up against the deadline in that time of stress, I remember thinking, “There is no possible way I can do this.”

And yet, here I am: alive and well with another handful of midterms down.

That night, I frantically tried to sustain Internet connection and battery on my laptop as my sister read aloud to me passages of readings I had marked and helped me organize my mess of highlighted notes and handouts. Though I felt like a zombie on steroids, I finished the essay and submitted it to Canvas by 11:59, seconds before the deadline.

It seems so trivial now, trying to relay the sense of fear and worry I felt then. It was just an essay – just pages of text, words strung together. 

In your case, it may be just an exam, or just a project; something that seems so monumental now, but will be practically meaningless in a year.

The Midterm Slump can feel like a cruel audition for “Whose Line is it Anyway?” – “the show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.”

In a weird way, that catchphrase is almost true; the arbitrary rules of grading scales, required readings or quiz quotas are essentially made up, and we’re all improvising every day.

The trickiness lies in the points – while they certainly matter that semester, they will evaporate as soon as the class is over. While the difference between an 85 and a 90 may have you wanting to scream now, you may not even remember the name of the class in a year’s time.

So, don’t fret too much, Murray State students. These few weeks will probably be pretty terrible, but they won’t kill us. We’ve conquered midterms before, and we’ll do it again.

We have just begun to fight!