At a certain point each term, the world seems to move slower than usual. A fifty-minute class suddenly feels like two hours; waking up at 9am seems far too early for even “morning people;” Monday morning coffee only does so much; and, the rain feels like yet another addition to a world seemingly out to get each and every one of us.
This seems to be a roadblock that all students face regardless of who they are, or even where they attend school. The phenomenon? The midterm slump.
Midterms in college are tricky, though, because midterm exams don’t all happen at the same time. Some “midterms” are in the fourth week of school, and some classes have no “midterms” at all. Some people (I am deeply sorry for you) have three midterms on one day, and some people get lucky (yay English majors!) and have no midterm exams, but rather several papers.
This diversity in both testing and timing seemingly makes the midterm slump even worse for most people. The midterm slump seems to drag on, requiring more energy to overcome its power as the days advance.
Even if you take exams or papers out of the equation, though, I believe the midterm slump would still exist. Why? Well, by now we are half way through the term (hence, midterm,) and things are staring to die down. The excitement of a new school has faded, and Parents Weekend has come and gone, along with tailgates and the fleeting hope that Vandy Football may actually cause an upset. With only days until Fall Break, we seem to be counting the seconds until the we can momentarily escape the VU Bubble.
So if this midterm slump would exist regardless of the amount of tests or projects due, it means that the time of year is likely what causes its existence. The people (us, the students) are fed up with the mundane nature of the daily class schedule, and potentially unhappy with things that have occurred thus far. As Vandy students, perhaps we are frustrated with the administration’s lack of support for the football team, perhaps we dislike the way our professors grade, or perhaps we don’t have specific frustrations at all, rather, we are simply sick of Commons food. In a college setting, this all may be important to us, or maybe it is not. But, regardless, we get a quick Fall Break, and then must return again in order to finish out the term.
When you take a step outside of our community, though, I think the term “midterm slump” gains even more significance. It is not fresh news (or at least hopefully it is not) that the Midterm Elections are quickly approaching. The deadlines for registering to vote have almost all passed, and the coverage of the Midterms gets more intense by the second.
Held two years after Presidential Elections, the Midterm Elections determine the outcome of one-third of the Senate seats, as well as all 435 House seats. In a politcal sense, the “midterm slump” refers to the pattern of results that the Midterm Elections have taken over the years. This pattern is not favorable toward the President’s party- only twice in the 21 midterm elections since 1934 has the Presidential party gained seats in both the House and Senate. Typically, the controlling party loses its control, creating an average deficit of thirty seats. This type of “midterm slump” has been defined and explained by several different theories, but regardless of the reasons, the data remains: the party of the White House almost always loses seats.
I think this is likely caused by a renewed sense of drive, a spark, by the minority party. After two years, the minority party has policy to rally around- ways to energize their constituents in order to vote out the opposing congressmen (& congresswomen, duh.)
So, what does this all have to do with us, and our “midterm slump?” Well, I think it sort of requires the same type of action: as mundane as the days can feel, and as far away as Fall Break feels (lol it’s literally in two hours), we have to find that renewed sense of motivation that the minority party seems to thrive off of.
Even when we return from a few (very necessary) days off, we will need to find some way to motivate ourselves through the weeks leading up until Thanksgiving. It’s certainly not easy- in fact, I’m pretty terrible at it. But, we have to cultivate that spark. And, in the chilly Fall weather that Nashville has provided us with, there seems like plenty to do: S’Memorial sounds great, maybe we can play with some dogs outside, walk to Jeni’s, hit the lib with some hot chocolate, or potentially even tune into the Midterm Elections. No matter what you do, find your spark (your grades are probably depending on it.)
PS: Whether you want to decrease the likely hood of a Congressional midterm slump or contribute to the flip of Congress, go vote! #getoutthevote