Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I love exams (yep, it sounds crazy, I know)

(posted a week later than I meant to - sorry!)

Last week, while I was giving a tour of Darden, a prospective student asked about exams and the exam process at Darden.  There was an aspiring FY tourguide shadowing my tour, and both of us turned to each other and immediately blurted the same response: "Exams are our favorite time at Darden!"  It is a funny thing to say, given most of the time the word "exam" is linked to stress and frantic chaos (think: GMAT!?)  However, at Darden, while there are definitely some subjects that elicit the stress and frantic chaos, exam period is often one of the calmest parts of the quarter. 

Why is that?  Well, exam period is the most flexible times of the Darden academic schedule.  Classes are over, the email load reduces, and most club and co-curricular activites screech to a sudden halt for a few days.  And, because of the strong honor code and trust within the Darden community, all of our exams and papers are take-home.  You can "check-out" your exams online - they are timestamped - and then you upload the completed exam within a alloted amount of time.  You can take exams at 3am in the morning, sitting in pajamas, or remotely from another country...or all three!   

My List of Why I love exam period:

  • You can eat cheetos for breakfast chalk it off to "exam stress"
  • You can actually go to the gym and get a decent workout - or as a SY, you can do "two-a-days" at the gym since somehow the looming existance of beach week feels a lot more real in March
  • Sweatpants, oversized t-shirts, and flip-flops are appropriate attire walking down the Darden halls or sitting in the library.  ...I might wear those clothes on a more regular basis than I would like to admit, but during exams it just feels "right!"
  • Your apartment is allowed to be messy, just because.
  • Catching up with classmates and friends is actually possible.  I have been sitting in a coffee shop all morning, and at least a dozen of my classmates have walked in the door and stopped for a quick chat.  And I am looking forward to a frozen yogurt study break with some folks later this afternoon
  • You can finally catch up on all those TV shows on your DVR/Hulu/Netflix
  • And - since we are in graduate school, and most of us are pretty nerdy - I guess this is fitting: my favorite part of exams is actually reflecting on all of the things I learned over the last quarter.  For example, one of the papers I am writing today is about common traits of great leaders and how our study of world leaders may influence our own leadership styles.  Another project I am working on right now is compiling a portfolio of journal entries from a class I took on design thinking over the last six months.  When classes is in full force - it often feels like reflecting on the material is the last thing I have time for - so if nothing else, exams actually provide this time and space!

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