Professors give personal accounts of stress during finals week

Carla Martinez poses for a portrait outside of Calvin Hall. Martinez in an associate proffessor of Political Science and has been teaching at Kansas State for seven years. (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group)

With the end of the semester rapidly coming to a close, stress in students is at an all time high. Final papers, projects and cramming for exams makes the last couple weeks of the semester hectic and worry-filled for many students and tends to take a toll on their mental and physical wellbeing. For many university professors, finals week is just as stressful.

For Brooke Beyer, assistant professor of accounting, finals week means double the stress.

“The most stressful part of finals week is first making sure to meet the needs of my students as they prepare for my final and making sure I am available to assist them with any questions as they prepare,” Beyer said. “Second, grading the final exams and submitting grades can be stressful.”

The content included on an exam can also be an additional stressor for many professors.

“I include a lot on my exams and the grading can be time consuming and stressful with the time crunch to get grades submitted on time,” Beyer said.

For Kate Digby, assistant professor of dance, the end of the semester workload looks a little different than typical exams.

“Winter Dance is the weekend before dead week, so at the same time that faculty are preparing for final assessments in half of our classes, we are preparing other ensemble classes for performances,” Digby said.

Digby is also actively involved in producing original professional performance work, which involves traveling to larger urban areas and various touring locations. Traveling for outside research can interfere with classes, and is often scheduled for winter break to avoid losing face time with students during the semester.

“Winter break is a prime time for research travel, which means that there is overlap between preparation for that research work and the conclusion of our work with students for the semester.”

During the end of the semester, students are so focused on cramming for exams and their final grades that they tend to forget the work done by professors behind the scenes, Sidd Ajay, junior in management, said.

“I think students are more focused on themselves,” Ajay said. “We’re usually only focused on getting the best grade possible, which is why we probably don’t think about the stress of our professors and the workload that piles up for them toward the end of the semester.”

While it may be stressful and demanding, finals week gives professors the chance to see growth and progression from their students.

“It’s exciting to see students who perform poorly on the first exam seek help, change their study habits and increase their commitment in a way that helps them be more successful on subsequent exams like the final,” Beyer said.