OLIN LIBRARY—Panic ensued among patrons of Libe Cafe as what started off as a wimpy high-pitched whine grew into a deafening whistle, its shrill sound piercing ears and shattering phone screens. Searching for a means of sequestering the shrieking, workers rushed to unplug their appliances and knock over anything that might produce such an intense trill.
The workers’ efforts were rewarded with respite as the ringing in their ears receded and the discomforting sound softened. Believing danger to have abated, students stood pondering the source of the disturbance. Realization dawned on the crowd as it recognized the sound starting up again from a dark corner of the cafe, not from a malfunctioning machine but from a frenzied freshman.
Trent Marco ‘27 sat alone at a table, fists clenched and pounding his temples. As a screaming Marco grappled with the harsh reality of his eighteen credit schedule and five consulting club applications, his face flushed fiery red and steam began streaming from his ears and nose.
A self-proclaimed “academic weapon,” Marco spent the first two months of the semester getting settled with the belief that when the going got tough, he’d turn on the gas and conquer any academic adversity. Instead, as prelim season began, Marco developed the habit of generating more steam than a hydrogen combustion engine and expelling it in moments of high stress.
“I can’t help it,” Marco explained, “I tried keeping a lid on it, but if I plug my nose, then the ear steam doubles. And if I plug those too… God, that was terrible…”
Cafe customers had little empathy for the frustrated freshman, going as far as to boo him until he took his whining outside. Marco was observed fleeing across the Arts Quad soon after, the steam from his head condensing into a cloud and raining down on just him.
STATLER– In a scheduling mishap likely to elicit several complaints with seniors, this semester’s Wines final exam has been scheduled to finish just minutes before the school’s Tightrope Walking final deliverable.
“I’m so fucked,” exclaimed one Wines student. “My palette is a little weak, so I have to drink a bit more than everyone else before I can really nail down the flavors. I’m going to be sloshed as hell after that exam, there’s absolutely no way I’m going to pass Tightrope Walking if it’s ten minutes later. I mean, we haven’t been briefed on what the final actually is, but I heard a student from last year mention it included juggling, and I simply cannot do that zooted.”
The finals schedule has inspired outrage among local students, claiming that while they took these classes to get easy A’s, the schedule is the one possible instance where those grades would be in jeopardy. HADM 4300, Introduction to Wines, and CRCS 2200, Essential Tightrope Walking Mechanics and Principles, have long been staples of the senior class schedule. Dr. Jefferson Bufoon, instructor of CRCS 2200, begs to differ.
“I have spent all semester preparing my students for exactly this type of wacky comeuppance,” stated Dr. Bufoon. “Rings of fire, balancing beach balls on their heads, and having a large crowd pelt them tomatoes. If they can’t toe the Ringling line while just a little tipsy, frankly they don’t deserve to pass my course.”
At press time, administration agreed to compromise and leave a twenty-minute power-nap break in the middle for students, along with making Gatorade and coffee available at the second exam for any hangovers.
MARTHA VAN RENSSELAER HALL—With one day left to study, fashion design student Jennifer Suh ‘24 is freaking the hell out over her impending final with a daunting subject: Zippers.
“I don’t know what the fuck I am going to do,” explained an exasperated Suh. “There is so much I have to shove inside my head right now. I can’t remember which goddamn zipper tooth is the beginning of the zipper, fuck…is it right or left? I do know that the zipper was invented by Whitcomb L. Judson and Gideon Sundback, those fucking wet sorry sacks of fuck are the reason I have to know all this horseshit. And oh my god… My final project is such a mess. It won’t even zip! I am going to crap myself.”
The final exam is a culmination of FSAD 4500: Fasteners and Haberdasheries II, a class that focuses on the different items used to clasp together various kinds of clothing. The breadth of the course is wide, including the historical origins and methods of application of: buttons on coats, buttons on pants, large buttons on coats, large buttons on pants, snap buttons on coats, snap buttons on pants, laces on boots, laces on coats, velcro on sneakers, velcro on coats, and of course, zippers on coats, zippers on pants, zippers on shirts, and zippers on bags.
In an act of desperation, Suh has decided to cut out the zipper from her own pants to present as her final project. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to her, 23 students have received academic integrity violations doing just that, 15 of whom have been expelled.
ROCKEFELLER HALL—After a semester in which the bulk of the material was pushed to the last few days of class, Professor James Kent ‘88 has decided the best solution is to just assume all his students know it anyways and put it all in the final exam.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t get to this material in class,” explained Professor Kent to his Monday Economics section. “But these six chapters are no more dense than the six chapters we covered in the three months prior to now. Therefore, we should have no trouble skimming through all six in one fifty-minute lecture, holding one office hours section, and then basing sixty percent of your grade on that knowledge I never taught.”
Professor Kent then moved on to a lecture in which he, at the speed of a freshman sprinting across the Arts Quad, described in vague detail everything from GDP calculation to Philips curves to applications of economic theory to modern politics. Students furiously scribbled in notebooks as the professor casually mentioned concepts on which he would base entire free response questions on the class’s cumulative exam in one week.
“Honestly, I got about a third of that,” admitted Matthew Kroger ‘25. “He lost me at the inflation stuff, and I had no idea what to make of the whole Krebs cycle thing. I think he accidentally started teaching us biology there for a few minutes, but I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with supply and demand? Seriously, is this what college is? Like, sure, I haven’t shown up to most of my sections, but I expected better from a tenured professor.” At the time, Professor Kent was giving a one-minute overview of game theory, a topic that would make up about a third of the final exam.
Asked to comment, Professor Kent stated that he is aware that the grades on the final will likely be abysmal, but that he was planning on curving everyone’s grade to a C+ anyways.
BAKER LAB — In the lecture following their second prelim, pre-med student Aaron Hale ‘23 nervously reassured his CHEM 2070 classmates that, despite missing the prelim last Thursday, the curve should definitely bring him up to at least a C.
“I mean, basically the same thing happened last time,” muttered Hale to himself, whose grade was curved from 63% to 78% on the first prelim. “I’m sure a 0% should curve to at least a 65% on this exam, right? I can’t be the only one who slept through it, right!?”
According to Hale’s roommate, Joshua Park ‘23, Hale, who had only gotten three hours of sleep the night before, left dinner at 7:15 on Thursday to “cram” for his 7:30 exam, only to be found asleep on a couch in the Appel lounge at 7:25.
“When he came back I asked him how the prelim went, but he kept avoiding the question,” recalled Park. “Instead, he just spent, like, twenty minutes explaining that seeing your GPA improve over time is ‘actually a positive for med school.’”
At press time, Hale was seen nervously refreshing his r/cornell Reddit post asking how much freshman year grades “really matter” for medical school admissions.
WILLARD STRAIGHT HALL – To address student mental health concerns during prelim season, the Entomology Department has begun hosting animal therapy sessions in Willard Straight Hall with gigantic, droning swarms of bees.
Department chair Bryan Danforth cited the short supply of therapy dogs on campus as inspiration for the idea.“We asked ourselves, ‘Why should students huddle around two or three puppies when they could just be swarmed by literally thousands of fuzzy little bees?’”
Students have received the bees with great enthusiasm. “After a few stings, you start to go entirely numb,” noted Jacob O’Rourke ‘19. “Once my throat closed up, my CS 3110 prelim was the least of my concerns!”
Commenting on the program’s success, Intro to Insect Behavior professor Ken Crawley remarked, “In lecture, my students can barely stay awake, but during these sessions, they’re galloping around the room, flailing their arms frantically in excitement.” Several of Professor Crawley’s students missed their Tuesday prelim due to hospitalization, but he commended their exuberance in the presence of insects.
After one of the bee colonies unexpectedly escaped, the department reassured students across campus that if a swarm of bees enters your 8am lecture, just remember they’re only there to calm and support you.
LEWIS AUDITORIUM — Just barely putting his notes away in time before the TA handed out the midterm, Justin Solotoff ’17 dismissed his neighbor’s assertive comment that Solotoff should have started studying earlier for the exam.
“I didn’t cram,” whispered Solotoff as he opened his blue book. “I started studying a whole hour ago.”
Solotoff’s roommates confirmed that last night, when they expressed concern over whether or not their friend would have enough time to study, he assured them that he knew what he was doing.
“We saw his textbook still in its original wrapping and knew he hadn’t started preparing, but he kept telling us that he first had to complete two problem sets and a response paper before he could begin even thinking about his exam,” said roommate Adam Trelly. “And just last week he told me he was going to improve his study habits.”
When questioned what would constitute actual cramming, Solotoff referenced a prelim that he took last week: “I skimmed the summary of the course objectives in the syllabus as I walked into the exam room. I think it’s pretty safe to call that ‘cramming.’”
Solotoff was later seen busy writing an essay in 30pt font with four inch-margins for a five-page assignment due the following morning.
RHODES HALL – With increasing likelihood that she will bomb her upcoming prelim, Shari Miller ’19, who has a perfectly clear, helpful, and approachable TA in Math 1110, is out of excuses for her inability to comprehend the material.
“The problem is I simply can understand everything my TA says during discussion. It’s infuriating,” said Miller, who has a well-rated professor and never opened the textbook.
While the prestige of Cornell’s math department draws distinguished scholars from all over the globe, Miller was unfortunate enough to receive an equally capable TA from the United States without any sort of dialect or accent, but with remarkable reviews from mid-semester TA evaluations.
“If I just had a Russian or Chinese TA that I couldn’t always understand, all of my problems would be solved,” lamented Miller, whose problems would admittedly still remain unsolved, but with the impression that it’s not entirely her fault.
Miller plans to forget to bring her calculator to the prelim, hoping the sympathy drawn from her peers will outweigh the judgment from scoring far below what she is capable of.
OLIN LIBRARY — So prelims are in the news again. Crazy, huh? Am I right?
You ever notice that professors try to schedule exams at the same time? Ugh, give me a break!
These guys know what I’m talking about.
Why are they even called prelims? What about current-lims? I’m not making this up, folks!
Prelims? More like pre-LAME. Heh.
Also, you hear it’s starting to get cold out? Don’t even get me started!
OLIN LIBRARY — Those people tossing around a frisbee on the arts quad are probably having a lot of fun, even though I have to stay in the library. I’m going to look back down at my work now.
Oh look they’re eating something. Are those chocolate chip cookies? Probably. But it’s too bad I can’t go out and join them because I’ve been busy every day doing that club thing that I don’t even like, but at least it’s going to look good on my resume. Look at the smile on that guy’s face; when was the last time I smiled?
Now there’s a dog walking by too; damn straight it’s going to go play with them. Look how fluffy it is, but I can’t pet it because I’m stuck inside doing my problem set. Did that dog just catch the frisbee in its mouth and bring it back? Of course it did.
I should probably get back to my work, I don’t want to see that hot guy walk down the path and play with the dog and the frisbee. Oh, there he is! That could be me.