Miramonte High should cancel exams for all seniors


Photo by Olivia Rhee, Miramonte High School

Miramonte High AP statistics seniors use the class period to either study for the upcoming first semester final or work on their college applications.

Olivia Rhee, Miramonte High School

The annual college application stress looming over Miramonte’s  senior class has returned. However, as semester finals roll around the corner, the overwhelming pressure escalates. From perfecting each supplemental essay, to researching colleges of interest, to studying for upcoming tests, many seniors struggle to manage schoolwork and college applications. 

With the additional challenge of final exams quickly approaching, the balance between academics and applications becomes harder to maintain, placing a significant toll on seniors. To minimize stress and help seniors succeed during this important application process, first semester finals for senior courses should be optional or rescheduled.

In a poll of 86 Miramonte students on Instagram, 80 percent responded that seniors should not be required to take first semester finals. Among the majority of people who voted this way, many argue that students already have a plethora of work, as they strive to perform well in their classes and create the best version of their college applications. 

       “I have found the college application process extremely stressful,” Miramonte senior Lily Wood said. “Trying to encapsulate four years of accomplishments and the very essence of who you are on paper is a difficult task. I have certainly struggled with balancing my academics and college applications, as I don’t feel like I can compromise on either one.” 

        Final exams force students to devote more of their time to schoolwork and studying, time which is needed to finalize and submit applications prior to the common Jan. 1 deadline. This shift makes time management increasingly difficult, but with optional or rescheduled finals, seniors would have more time to put their best foot forward in school and in college applications.

The hours of necessary studying for finals could take away time that students could be using to work on college applications.

        Most regular decision deadlines fall on or a few days after Jan. 1, only a couple of weeks after first semester finals. The district recently implemented a major scheduling change: moving finals before winter break. However, with these schedule alterations, seniors are scrambling to submit their regular decision applications while entering into “dead week,” which is supposed to be dedicated to studying for finals. Cramming to meet the due dates over winter break is not optimal, so seniors should be allowed to prioritize working on applications rather than studying for finals. 

The more time we have to work on applications, the better they will be, so studying for finals would get in the way since it’s too time consuming,” senior Anji Bhatthal said. 

Due to the schedule changes, this has become an obstacle that is relatively new for seniors, but they should not have to face this problem at all.

Finals should be optional or rescheduled rather than eliminated completely, in order to provide seniors with more time during the height of the college application process, but also to allow students who wish to take the tests to do so. 

         “I would much rather take a final when we get back from break and all deadlines have passed or only take one comprehensive final in the spring,” senior Riley George said. 

        While some students might prefer to take finals before winter break, seniors should also have the option of taking them after break. This way, the stress of finals on seniors is alleviated during the college application process, but they will still have the opportunity to study for and take finals in classes where they want to improve their grade. 

“I think winter finals for seniors should be optional. Considering our college applications and the stress of being a first semester senior, optional finals would provide the opportunity to take advantage of the summative assessment if we feel it is necessary, without the pressure of a required test,” senior Jamie Say said. “With a rigorous schedule this year, my workload has been pretty heavy, with college applications being the most stressful part. Our semester finals fall right around the due dates of several of my applications. I think that might push my workload past the manageable level and I would need to sacrifice something in my schedule, like playing a sport, studying for a class, or applying to a school. I don’t think having finals at a different time of year would work in terms of curriculum, so I think optional semester finals is the best solution.” 

      Other than rescheduling finals, a decision to make finals before winter break completely optional would relieve seniors of any stress toward the daunting tests at the end of the first semester.

“Final exams are a critical part of assessing the progress of students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and standards. So at this point, I do not see finals for seniors becoming optional or delayed. However, we certainly understand the pressures that seniors face in the first semester and will continue to look at ways at supporting them through this challenging time,” Miramonte Principal Ben Campopiano said. 

Deadlines for college applications are non-negotiable. But final exam dates can be. To help accommodate seniors as they encounter a momentous part of their academic journey that determines an important part of their future, the district should enforce optional first semester finals or reschedule them for the senior class. 

This opinion piece was first published in December 2021.