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Student shares exam horror story

Missed final necessitates change in major

Wyatt Smith

Features Editor

We’re not trying to be alarmists, but if a student misses a final exam, the consequences really can be dire. Here is the story of Will Hertel ’14, who had to drop one of his two majors after misreading his exam schedule.

On the Thursday of exam week in the Spring 2012 semester, Hertel had just one test left. It was the final for Quantitative Methods, a course required for all economics majors. Hertel had been struggling in the class, so he studied hard to ensure he could continue with his plan to be an economics and philosophy double major.

He woke up early to get some last-minute studying in for what he thought was an afternoon test. On his way to the exam, Hertel ran into Eric Petry ’14, his classmate in Quantitative Methods. Petry asked Hertel where he was during that morning’s final. Confused, Hertel asserted that he was in fact on his way to the exam in question. Petry replied that he had already taken it; the final was over.

At this point, Hertel hurried back to his room to double check the exam schedule, swearing the entire way. Petry was right; Hertel had missed his Quantitative Methods final exam.

Hertel’s first instinct was to talk to his teacher, Assistant Professor of Economics Lisa Verdon. Unable to locate her, Hertel returned to his dorm room and tried to figure out what he could do to remedy the situation.

Hertel spent the next couple of days discussing his situation with Henry Kreuzman, Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement, and Barbara Burnell, Professor of Economics and Hertel’s academic adviser. According to Hertel, both expressed sympathy but held that he would need his teacher’s support to retake the exam.

The College Catalogue — which covers academic policy as well as degree requirements — states that “final examinations are to be given only at those times scheduled for each particular class by the Registrar,” and any exceptions must be approved by Dean Kreuzman.

When Hertel got in touch with Verdon, she told him that she would not support his attempt to retake the final.

“There are very few excusable reasons for missing a final exam,” said Verdon, given all the warning students receive of the tests’ timing and location. For example, Verdon makes a point of reminding students about the final each class in the week proceeding exams.

Having officially failed the final, Hertel failed Quantitative Methods. Since the course was a prerequisite for higher level economics courses, Hertel had to reevaluate his academic plans. With help from his adviser, he realized that there was no way he could continue to pursue his double major and graduate on time. Hertel had to downgrade one of his two majors into a minor.

“[I took] economics because my parents liked it, philosophy because I liked it,” said Hertel. “I, in the words of my mom, followed my passion [and] became a philosophy major with an economics minor.”

Even though he is no longer an economics major, he will still have to retake Quantitative Methods in order to complete the requirements for his minor.

Despite its significant repercussions, Hertel remains upbeat about the experience, which he considers to have been a learning opportunity. Missing the exam motivated him to concentrate more on schoolwork, and his attempt to retake the test taught him how to stand up for himself.

“Would I want to have learned this lesson exactly this way if I had the option to do it all over again? No,” Hertel said. “I don’t recommend someone miss their final … but at the end of the day, good did come out of it.”

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