By Alexandra “Alex” Schireman

If you told me I had to choose between taking a midterm exam or a final, I would probably reach for my planner and pen, and ask you when the final exam was.   I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who will question my rationale.  After all, the word “final” is inherently frightening.  It is the end, the finish, the death knell, the swan song; no re-dos, no second chances.  The key element of midterms, however, is the word “mid.”  Midterms take place around the middle of the term.  The time when you have to put in extra hours at work, turn in that journal assignment, complete your house chores, have orchestra rehearsal, have an appointment with your career counselor, want to go to the football game…it can feel as though there is no ample time to study.   And although your RAs may be sympathetic, they cannot guarantee that your dorm will be a peaceful place to study.  It’s a free country, and if your roommate wants to blast Zac Brown, you’re not in as good of a position to protest.  Midterms generally take place during class time, and for some people, fifty minutes is not sufficient time to tackle an exam.  In addition, while a class can have only one final, it is possible for a class to have multiple midterm exams.

And yet, with all that said, I recently discovered that I wouldn’t want to be in a class without a midterm.  This realization occurred last summer, when I was taking Intercultural Communication as a week long course.  Since the course was so short, our final paper was due a couple of weeks after our class stopped officially meeting.  This final assignment was to interview someone from another culture and write a paper about our discoveries.  Having confidence in my academic writing abilities, I interviewed my friend from Vietnam, quickly churned out a paper, edited it once, and sent it to my professor.  No worries…until I discovered that I had earned a B+ in the course overall.  After discussing my grade with my professor, I had learned that my final paper was what ultimately lowered my grade.  Although my paper was well written, it did not directly address the academic terms and social patterns that we had learned about in class.  In hindsight, I should have shown my professor a rough draft of my paper.   Since the course was so brief, I didn’t have the benefit of a midterm; I didn’t have the opportunity to learn from experience what my professor wanted and to produce an “A” worthy final when I needed it most.  In other words, a big lesson I learned is that midterms don’t have to be intimidating; they can actually make final exams less so.  They can provide you with a cushion come finals time, or they can be the wake-up call you need to succeed.

The most successful midterms I experienced at Oregon State were the ones where the professors clearly outlined what they expected from a midterm in advance.  One example of a professor who does an excellent job of providing information about her midterm exams is Charlotte Headrick, who teachers Theatre History here at OSU.  Paying heed to Charlotte’s detailed information regarding her midterms served me well; in fact, during my last theatre history class with her, I did so well on both midterms that I was completely excused from taking the final! Of course, not all teachers will explicitly state what’s expected on their exams.  If you feel unsure about to expect on your midterm exam, or what your teacher wants to see in your midterm paper, I highly recommend looking up your teacher’s office hours and making an appointment.  Your professors are being paid to help you succeed; make them work a little harder for their money!

What you do after your midterms is just as important as what you do before.  If you do an excellent job on an exam, keep doing what you’re doing.  Now is not the time to rest on your laurels. But if you don’t do so well on a midterm, NOW is the time to ask your professor questions if you haven’t done so already.  Ask him why you got marked down in certain areas and what you can do to improve (and sometimes, you just may need your teacher to decipher his handwriting).  And be proactive: if you notice what parts of an exam you did poorly on, you know what you need to fix. If you know somebody who DID do well, you know who to ask to be in your next study group.  And if worse comes to worse, if a midterm makes you realize that you can’t pass a class despite your best efforts, it’s good to be aware of the final drop date.

If you have a midterm coming up, good luck!  You’re lucky to already have this opportunity to learn how to receive the most benefit from your classes.

P.S. One more thing: check out this link for several helpful studying tips.  It’s awesome!


Welcome all new Beavers! My name is Alison Blazer and I’m a sophomore majoring in Speech Communication. Having only one year of Oregon State under my belt, I was not too long ago new to this campus, just like you.

Here in the Beaver Nation, there’s a rather large contingency of engineering students, pre-pharmacy students, animal science students etc. While each and every one of these subjects holds importance in society today, I want you all to keep in mind that being a student of the College of Liberal Arts is just as key a position to hold.

I came to OSU as an English major, and switched later on to a major in Speech Communication. My whole life I have been interested in working with people on a more interpersonal level than many math and science students care to do. Now I’m not saying that students who delve deeper into those more fact-based subjects are in any way lacking intelligence. The fact is that, my freshman year, I was regarded as the one lacking intelligence!

With engineering being a main focus at Oregon State, I continuously ran into students doubting the importance of what I do. People would rhetorically ask me “Why would you ever major in Communications?” as if just to get a rise out of me.

My personal interest in this endless battle comes from the inherent label of “slacker” being thrown about when it comes to students studying the liberal arts. I, along with many of my liberal arts peers, rarely show a strong interest in anything math or science related, mainly because such subjects don’t seem worthwhile or invigorating. On the other hand, skeptics of the liberal arts don’t just express a disinterest in the subject, but rather a discounting of the necessity of the subject as a whole.

The fact is, while math and science are indeed important subjects, I have always been far more intrigued by writing, reading, the study of rhetoric and interpersonal relationships. To some people these focuses may be insignificant, but as long as we CLA students stick together, we can stand up and defend our academic choices.

My first winter term on campus, I was talking with an upperclassman majoring in Civil Engineering. When he asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I essentially told him that I wanted to work with people, most likely on a college campus, perhaps as the Dean of Student Life or in some other facet of student affairs. He discounted my goals, asking what my work was going to the do for the public. The buildings that he would one day design were going to be used by the public every day. While I acknowledge that engineering, in any form, is a tough topic, the importance and my personal love of Liberal Arts are both things that are sorely misunderstood.

Although my fellow Liberal Arts peers may not design buildings or develop new pharmaceuticals, each of them will surely contribute to society in a positive way. I have now met students here whose wide range of future plans astonish me. Each of them has been working for years toward their goals, whether it’s teaching history to high school students, being a sports news broadcaster or even joining the Peace Corps.

Those students who trek through the rather continuous questioning of their purpose here on campus will go on to serve just as vital a role in society as any other major. A degree in the liberal arts can be molded to fit any type of future, ranging from movie producer to political activist.

As you venture into the wonderful Beaver Nation, remember- CLA is not for everyone, but it is for you! If you have a passion for psychology or philosophy or even the theater arts, embrace what you love and don’t take any flak from your fellow students! After all, we know that they’re just jealous because we’re a bit better with our words.


Hello Everyone! I am Leah Anderson, a senior majoring in Merchandising Management and Applied Visual Arts. Having spent the past four years here at Oregon State University, I am now feeling quite nostalgic for my freshman year.

Thinking back to my very first week of classes, I remember being painfully nervous that I would become brutally lost on campus and be late to everything. I would leave my dorm room at least 35 minutes early –map in hand, checking and rechecking my watch every 30 seconds. Oregon State seemed gigantic, way bigger than my high school. If you are having any of the same concerns that I had, take a deep breath and visit this address: This online map is still something I visit every once in a while –it’s really easy to use. Just type in the building you’re looking for and it will help you find it. You may want to take a hard copy just incase you get lost anyway. And relax –the campus really is a lot smaller than it can seem.

Generally the classrooms themselves are pretty easy to find. This was definitely another major concern of mine (now that I’ve found the building –where am I supposed to be???). Usually classroom numbers in the 100s are on the first floor, 200s on the second floor, etc.

Oh another MAJOR freak-out I had was about getting my textbooks. It made me incredibly nervous not getting my books immediately that first Monday. I was convinced that I would fall behind or something. This is not the case! I’ve noticed, the older the student –the longer they wait to buy their books. Some classes you’ll find you don’t really need the book –others will have a ton of reading. It can be really helpful to feel out the class before you rush to buy your textbooks. You’ll save money and avoid the horrifically long lines the first week.

Overall I’d say time management is the name of the game. While in high school I didn’t need a planner or really anything more than a reminder post it in order to get things done on time, in college I started using a student planner regularly (there are a ton of options out there, both at the OSU bookstore and at office supply stores like Staples) and spent a lot more time studying. Just remember that everything is much more independently based now, so it’s really up to you as to how you want to go about it. And have fun! OSU is such a great campus environment –I wouldn’t change a thing!

Good luck guys! Feel free to leave a comment about your first week. I’d love to hear how it went!



Welcome to OSU CONNECT, from your College of Liberal Arts Head Advisor, Louie Bottaro. This is the 15th consecutive CONNECT week at Oregon State University and also my 15th. I arrived on campus as a graduate student in the College Student Services Administration program in 1997. It was an incredibly exciting time while working in the office of Admission and Orientation which was one of the lead offices on campus in organizing the program. I jumped right in and staffed information tables, stapled schedules together and anything that was asked of me. This is because CONNECT week is such an amazing opportunity for you the new student.


Things you should try and do this week:

  • Make new friends.
  • Reconnect with advisors and friends you met at START.
  • Gain your bearings around campus, (make sure you know how to get to your classes).
  • Go to a football game and watch our Beavers beat UCLA.
  • Go learn about your university at the New Student Walk and Convocation.
  • Find a great deal at Fred Meyer.
  • Eat lots of free pizza.

If you can do a few of these things you can have a great start to your year.

This year the College of Liberal Arts will be hosting a Welcome event/Scavenger Hunt on Thursday at 2:00 pm in front of Gilkey Hall. You heard about it during START and now this will be a great way to gain some terrific insight on the CLA at OSU. It’s been a few years since CLA has sponsored an event and our new advisors have done a terrific job in that regard.

One final story… during that first CONNECT week, my supervisor in Admissions introduced me to a student who was helping out with CONNECT week activities. Although she doesn’t recall the encounter, I now call her my wife. Who knows what CONNECTions you will make this week?