June 27, 2011

A final redux for third year

So it took me a while to get around to writing this post, and most of that was because of the usual rough transition between the end of the school year and the beginning of summer.

The push towards the end of third year, to put it mildly, was chaotic. Having secured summer work (a prerequisite for any year to be considered a success), I proceeded to face finals with the problematic fact that half of my final papers/projects were due on the Wednesday before reading period began. This, combined with classes that generally were more subjective and had less measurable metrics (one only had a single final paper, another had very subjective categories) meant that it was hard to establish a good read on where I stood in most of my classes. I think my estimates might have been too optimistic: that was likely my downfall.

For the first half of my real finals week (which started basically a week earlier than actual scheduled finals week) I had no difficulty focusing. However, my approach created a great deal of strain: writing both a final project and paper on the same day took a toll both mentally and physically. Furthermore, it was incredibly difficult to focus on the last two finals I had for very simple reasons: I knew that my statistics final had a very limited reach in terms of what I could actually do to prepare (generally more than writing up the 2 pages of notes is not only overkill but counterproductive, as those two pages of notes accommodate everything that you learn in that class) and because for the experimental economics final our group couldn't really agree on a final project idea until finals week had rolled around.

The results were thus less than stellar. This was only my second quarter without a single A, and my overall GPA was reduced. Such a result is obviously less than optimal. My takeaway from this quarter is a pretty simple two part lesson:

1. I need to keep busy, and thus taking only 3 classes was a mistake.
2. I need to take classes that have more frequent weekly evaluations (homework, problem sets, and readings) but that also encourage limited collaboration (ie, not working by myself, but also not in groups larger than 3-4).

With these in mind, fall quarter (the last one I plan on taking classes in) should be a feasible target for a rebound. It will by no means be a cakewalk, but it will definitely be better (by at least 50%, I hope) than spring quarter.

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