The Night Before Comps


Our seniors are taking their comprehensive exams, a department requirement for graduation, this weekend.  They’ve been studying for months (literally — we gave them the review packets last April and I know several people were working on them this summer) and now The Time Has Come.

Last week one of our seniors sent me this poem that she’d written in honor of the occasion, and she gave me permission to post it here.

Good luck everyone!

The Night Before Comps
A parody of Clement Clark Moore’s The Night Before Christmas
By Elyse Matson

’Twas the night before comps and all through Nazareth College,
The math majors were studying, stuffing their brains full of knowledge.
Notebooks and mechanical pencils scattered the room
In hopes that their proofs had the right “we assume”.
Coffee mugs nestled snug in their grips
With visions of scoring at least a 76.
With students in the library, and in the math center
Settling down for an all-nighter
When at one table there arose such a clatter,
The math majors looked up to see what was the matter.
Over to the commotion they went with a flash,
Someone was crying, sure she wasn’t going to pass.
The eigenvectors and values were giving her trouble
And she needed help with derivatives on the double.
When, what to the math majors wondering eyes did emerge,
A Solutions manual complete with p-series that diverge!
With step-by-step directions, and answers too
They knew in a moment they were going to pull through.
No more would they suffer from their torments,
They cheered and shouted and read the table of contents.
“On normal distributions and integration by parts,
On epsilon delta, and z-score charts.
To contrapositives! To proofs by induction!
Now integrate, integrate using u-substitution!”
As the students sat down and started to study,
The formulas made sense; they weren’t so fuzzy!
So question after question their mechanical pencils flew
Through linear, statistics, calc one and calc two.
Next the students began writing their proofs,
With enough “hence’s” and  “thusly’s” for their professors to approve.
After they took limits as n approaches infinity,
They stretched their legs and refilled their coffee.
Although sleepy and very tired,
They studied and studied doing all the questions required.
Their eyes – how they drooped! Their faces not so merry!
Their minds were fried, their stomachs empty.
Their problems complete, formulas whizzing through their heads,
The math majors went home to their beds.
And when they awoke to take their exam,
One of them uttered a not so quiet, “damn!”
“What’s wrong?” they asked, with concerned looks.
“We didn’t find out who sent us that book!”
The math majors asked around the college,
But couldn’t find a person to acknowledge.
After the exams were done and scored,
The students relaxed; they were glad to be bored.
And although, they never found out who helped them that night,
They all passed and got every question right!

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