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Last day of classes does not mean end of semester

Francis says a separate week must be assigned for exams because of accreditation

Jennifer Brancaccio / Reporter

Although students often wish they could move up the timing of their final exams, Gerald Francis, vice president of Academic Affairs for Elon, says that allowing such shifts would lead to "absolute chaos."

Elon's Provost said that the university must have a week strictly dedicated to exams because each semester must be around 15 weeks long.

He said these numbers must be met for accreditation purposes.

"If there were exams only on the last day of each class, the semester would be only 12 to 13 weeks, and that would be unacceptable," Francis said.

He explained that because of Winter Term  Elon's semesters are shorter than other school's.

Students often try to coerce their teachers into moving their exams from their scheduled day and time to the last day of class because they do not want to wait around for their exams. The thought of spring semester exams just around the corner creates an itch for which the cure is coming none too soon.

"One semester, all of my exams were on the last two days of exam week," junior Liz McConville said. "I had two or three days to just sit around when I could've gone home earlier."

Both McConville and a classmate, Adam Stewart, agree that exams would be more convenient if they weren't spread out over a week.

Despite their complaints, other students said they enjoyed having the extra days between exams to study. It was a way for them to relax. It rushed some students too much to go straight from learning to taking the test without any time to study. Still, there are always those who go straight to the source to voice their opinions.

Francis said that since academic administrators "stuck to their guns"

and left no room for flexibility in the schedule, there was never any room for negotiation.

"If one teacher allowed his or her class's exam be moved to the final day of the class, our office would hear about it," Francis said.

Francis also said that students would come to him and say that since their friends were able to move their exam, they should be able to move theirs as well.

The only way a student could change an exam would be if he or she had three exams or more on one particular day. According to the Fall 2006 Exam Schedule, a student must fill out a "change request" form and submit it to the Registrar's Office no later than 5 p.m. on the last day of classes before exams begin. This strict requirement is not the only one that is administered to students pertaining to the changing of exams.

If a student was to miss an exam, he or she would have to go to the head of that class's department to request a makeup exam. Students thought that missing an exam wouldn't be a big deal if they had a valid excuse. Others thought that since they were adults and responsible for their work, valid excuses wouldn't even be needed.

McConville missed an exam due to her grandmother's death in 2004. She went on to say that even though she had a more than valid excuse, she still had to go to an adviser to ask permission.

"I was surprised that I had to go through all of these channels in order to make it up," she said.

When students inquire about the future of exam scheduling, administrators are open to debate.

"Give me a good alternative that meets all of the university accreditation and academic requirements, and we'll talk about it," Francis said.

Until a better way comes along that pleases students while still adhering to the strict rules pertaining to exams, Elon students can look forward to the coming years without a change in the way that they take their final tests.

Contact Jennifer Brancaccio at or 278-7247.