Satire: American University’s perpetual midterm season
Efforts to secure one singular, midterm-free moment fail
The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental.
At American University, professors schedule midterm exams whenever they please. Beholden to neither policy nor reason, some professors choose to test in February, while others wait until the end of March.
Though the perpetuity of midterms season poses challenges to all students, one student in particular endured an unusually challenging schedule. The Seagle caught up with John Fisher, a sophomore in the School of International Service, to discuss his notable midterm experience.
Fisher began his story in mid-March.
On March 11, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. With the changing clocks and the delirium of midterms, Fisher overslept by nearly one full hour. He frantically combed through his hair and brushed his teeth, knowing that in just a few minutes, he would be taking his final midterm of the semester. Worth 88 percent of his grade, the International Economics midterm would be the toughest one yet.
Fisher expressed extreme frustration at the sheer number of midterms he was forced to take this spring.
“It’s my millionth midterm of the semester,” Fisher said. “It feels like there’s a new one every day. When will it end?”
Despite initial disheartenment, Fisher reported that the midterm went well. He arrived on time, completed the test with ten minutes to spare and earned the highest mark in his class.
“John seems to know the material like the back of his hand,” economics professor Marc Tejada said.
While he experienced material success, Fisher longed for the midterms season to end.
“I tried absolutely everything I could,” Fisher said. “I feigned rheumatoid arthritis, threw my computer down the garbage chute to reduce its capabilities and hacked into the professor-side of Canvas and altered the list of assignments. Nothing worked. The midterms just kept coming.”
On March 14, he reported waking up to the sound of manicured chirping coming from the bedside table, a soft alarm on a Monday morning. The gentle awakening paled in comparison to the mounting anxieties preceding his midterm.
“To be honest, the idea of another midterm frustrates me,” he said. “I can’t believe I have yet another sit-down test after taking so many already. Haven’t I already paid my dues?”
Fisher once again tried to buy some leisure time but to no avail.
“I dropped my instant pot on my foot to break it, but unfortunately, it only created a hairline fracture that didn’t appear incredibly severe,” Fisher said. “When I came back home, I filled the instant pot with frozen pork chops and cans of chickpeas. That worked. I really wanted an exemption, but sadly, all I got was an extension.”
Despite valiant efforts to secure one singular, midterm-free moment, it appeared as though Fisher had failed once again.
On March 15, Fisher woke up from a horrible night of sleep. With Canvas notifications crowding his inbox and the fear of impending assignments occupying most of his headspace, Fisher shuffled to get ready in time for his midterm. Though it was quite possibly the most heavily weighted assignment of his academic career, Fisher felt uncharacteristically at ease.
“I feel good about this one,” he said. “I can recite the material in my sleep.”
This behavior surprised Fisher’s roommate, Jarrod Raisner. He began to grow suspicious of Fisher and suspected that something serious might be of concern.
“Something is wrong with John,” Raisner said. “All he ever does is take midterms. He’s taken at least 17 midterms over the past three months and he’s only enrolled in four classes.”
While Fisher seemed calm and collected, Raisner remained concerned.
“I fear he is caught in the Never-Ending Cycle of Midterms,” Raisner said.
While John's strange experiences are unfamiliar to most of America, they are quite commonplace on AU’s campus. Thirty students reported similar experiences to The Seagle, each enduring a perpetual onslaught of midterms exams and reporting that their midterms season persisted for months. Most terrifyingly, no one is sure of how to escape this trap — no one except for Fisher.
On March 16, Fisher finally experienced a change in perspective.
“I pass every exam with sky-high marks. I get infinite chances to get it right,” Fisher said. “To be honest, I could do this in my sleep.”
Fisher reported to The Seagle that he plans to attend law school and medical school, hoping to earn a perfect 4.0 GPA, 180 LSAT and 528 MCAT no matter how many tries it takes. He also assumed that if a criminal trial or a heart surgery didn’t go his way, he could wake up the next day and begin again.
“An unyielding midterm season doesn’t seem to phase anyone, so why should it phase me?” Fisher asked.
During the interview, he received a Canvas notification. It involved another midterm, now broken up into three sections and dispersed between March 25 and May 6. But Fisher was unafraid.
“What’s two more?” he said, grabbing a blue book, a pencil and a can of Redbull before diving into the next exam.
Nora Sullivan is a junior in the School of International Service and a satire columnist at The Eagle.