Senior Students Face Tough Workload in the Fall
by Aeshna Chandra on Friday, November 8th, 2013
Hectic, mad-dash, pressure-filled, incredibly busy: these are just a few of the words that describe senior fall. Although the workload plays a huge part in the chaos of senior fall, a struggle for time management contributes equally to the most stressful semester of high school. Seniors—burdened with school work, college applications, and a variety of extracurricular commitments—often cannot put all of their effort into one assignment or another, thus turning in the assignment at a quality below their usual standard. While seniors finish all of the work on their plate, completing everything perfectly is simply not possible. Teachers, over the course of senior fall, should not be more lenient with grading but should consider the stress of senior fall and the effort put into the assignment while grading.
Starting in the end of junior year, work builds and builds, reaching a climax in the beginning of senior year. For many seniors, college applications signify an addition to workload, not only because of the application itself but also because of the necessity of extracurricular participation. In the first semester of their last year of high school, seniors are forced to stay up late working on major assignments and college assignments; maybe some seniors put 100% of themselves into each and every major assignment, but most, with their time so split, put just enough effort to turn out a decent product. To add to the stress, seniors are pressured to get their best grades yet, while under short time constraints for the majority of the senior class who decide to apply early. For these seniors, they have a mere two months to get over the summer slump and reach grades that reflect their true potential before interim grades come out. Teachers, taking into consideration seniors’ workload, should not be easier while grading, per se, but should be more flexible with their requirements. Perhaps by grading more on effort and completion rather than on quality, teachers would not compromise their standards while still understanding the stress of their students. Additionally, teachers should be more flexible when it comes to deadlines. As long as students complete the necessary assignments, they should be permitted a more lenient schedule when it comes to taking tests or completing projects, as a hectic deadline could prevent students from producing their best work. Maria Gerrity of the English department believes that teachers should not be easier in grading in senior fall, though she thinks that most teachers still are more lenient.
However, another side of the debate is that other schools, where teachers may not be grading easier in senior fall, would be cast at a disadvantage if Milton teachers graded easier in the fall. Grading is already such a subjective issue—variations from teacher to teacher and school to school in grading style are so dramatic—that one teacher grading on a slightly different rubric would not make a huge difference. In addition, Milton teachers already hold their students to such high standards (and, of course, the students hold themselves to these high standards as well) that marking assignments more leniently would, again, not make much of a difference in the overall scope of things.
Grades these days carry such weight with colleges that it is impossible for most seniors not to stress about doing well in senior fall. Seeing this chaotic semester unfold right in front of their eyes, teachers should not take the pressure on seniors lightly. Without compromising their standards, teachers should reduce the amount seniors worry about major assignments by grading on a slightly different rubric, being more relaxed about deadlines, and clarifying what each assignment actually details.
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