Any Concord Academy student will tell you that finals are exhausting. Classes are all ending simultaneously, and there are exams, papers, and projects all within the span of a few days. I talked to Director of Studies Alyse Ruiz-Selsky ’05, who has a significant role in creating the schedule to gain some insight as to how the schedule is put together to balance the conclusion of every class. It is a draining time, but thankfully, I believe the schedule has succeeded in relieving at least some stress due to a few specific components.
The finals schedule is structured so that the second-to-last week of the semester is devoted to minor final assessments, where minor classes have the week to assess students how teachers see fit, whether it be a final painting, coding project, or set of ceramic bowls. Alyse did acknowledge that this was a challenging trade-off because major classes still meet this week, and given this, teachers of major courses are advised to be cognizant of the homework they are assigning. Apart from minor assessments, teachers cannot give any additional assessments.
The following week is major assessments, and the schedule reflects their significance. From Monday through Thursday, December 12 to 15, there are two blocks per day, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Alyse mentioned that, in the past, all classes would meet during that final week, but some classes wanted to end earlier and were not using the block of time they had been given. The Academic Office changed that to make the current finals week more manageable for students, and the week remained a time when teachers of major classes were able to use the time to administer any kind of assessment they had envisioned, all without having to think about minors. Alyse also added that the Academic Office tries to design the schedule in a way so that final blocks meet an equal amount of time after their final normal class block. They look at how many days it has been since that last class, and they try to make it all even and intentional. That order changes from the fall to spring semester, but most final blocks are between four and five days from the last class block.
There is one issue with the schedule: major classes should not require students to be there if there is not a specific assessment planned for that block. Exams, presentations, or structured discussions are all understandable, but if a class has a final paper due, it does not make sense for everyone to come in for the two-hour block only to press submit. I talked to multiple people who, last year, went in for an English class to watch a movie of one of the books they had read, and, while enjoyable, they agreed that time could be better spent preparing for other tests or finishing an essay. We all understood that this was time allotted to this class in particular that teachers could use however they wanted, but being able to use that time to prep more for other exams would have been even more beneficial. Just a few additional hours might give people the time the needed but could not find elsewhere, and would take a little more stress off by creating more time for students.
Nonetheless, the finals schedule is, overall, good. The finals themselves are a different story, but the Academic Office is very thoughtful with their construction of the finals schedule, and many students see and appreciate that.