First of all, let me make something abundantly clear; I am not a scrooge. I love Christmas every bit as much as the next person. The festive season is a chance to kick back, eat lots and catch up with the family… unless of course you go to University in Exeter; in which case you’re pretty much fucked.
For those of us (un)fortunate enough to go to the UK’s 10th highest rated University, our reward for 12 weeks of toil and hard-work is a meager three week break and the prospect of spending the entirety of Christmas locked away desperately trying to ignore the increasingly violent and competitive game of charades taking place downstairs in order to revise for January exams.
Don’t get me wrong, I think January exams are totally necessary, taking away some of the pressure that can reach breaking point in the summer. However, for me, the prospect of merely three weeks to write an essay and revise for three exams, which take place within a week of returning to Exeter after the winter break, is not a pleasant one. Combine this with working at a pub to fund my studies, and having to find time for my long-term girlfriend, old school friends and great aunt Audrey and suddenly the Christmas break doesn’t look so appealing.
Now I understand that many degree programmes (that’s right English students, I’m looking at you!) don’t have any January exams, and that some students studying Maths or science will probably have more exams than myself. Nevertheless, I still now find myself dreading Christmas, and longing for the term not to end… and I don’t think that’s right or fair.
For example, contrast the length of time students at Exeter have to revise for their January exams with those at Sheffield, a University ranked even higher than ours for degree programmes similar to my own. My Girlfriend has four weeks off at Christmas, followed by a three-week exam period in January/February. By the time she finishes her exams, we at Exeter will be nearly half-way through our second term.
To me this seems ridiculously unfair; why should we be given such a shorter period to revise for exams that have the same bearing on our final degree grade as students studying at a different institution? It’s a situation that seems all the more baffling given the ludicrously short third term we have at Exeter. I see no reason why term three cannot be used for teaching, in order to extend the Christmas break or January exam period. Additionally, this could also render the whole debacle over the extension of the teaching day unnecessary.
Of course, this makes far to much sense for the University to consider it as a reasonable suggestion, so instead of enjoying spending time with my family, I’ll be spending Christmas revising rational choice theory and consuming my body weight in mince pies.