Cocoa Cram Week sets itself as a model for future study programs


Soumya Kurnool

Despite having Fritos, friends, and AriZona soda on hand as distractions, seniors Ruby Chang, Brian Mui, Kuan Yu Chen and junior Jack Lu stay focused while studying for finals at the Dec. 5 session of Cocoa Cram Week. Their productivity is evidence of the capacity of after school study programs to help students. Photo by Margaret Lin.
When the bells signaled that school had let out at 3 p.m. every day of the week of Dec. 5, students rushed to the cafeteria for the cocoa and free food promised at Cocoa Cram Week. And though you’d think that the incentive for Cocoa Cram Week would ultimately fail and that students would leave immediately after the food was exhausted, that wasn’t at all the case. For students, opportunities like this mean a chance to study productively, and for that, Cocoa Cram Week deserves encouragement.

According to a survey of 162 students conducted by El Estoque on Friday, Dec. 9, 57% of those surveryed attended Cocoa Cram Week. Furthermore, 50% claimed that the event helped them prepare for finals.

In spite of all the criticism the event encountered, Cocoa Cram Week’s success should not come as a surprise. Unlike other group study events, Cocoa Cram Week had several teachers, including Physics teacher Jim Birdsong and French teacher Sarah Finck, available as resources for questions. Not only did the availability of help encourage good studying habits, but that also discouraged the presence of socializing that many see as the pitfall of study sessions.

Yet for all the benefits that the event offered, attendance was minimal — and a lack of publicity was the main culprit. The key aspects of Cocoa Cram Week that were communicated to students were cocoa and free food, while information about studying and the specific teachers who attended took the back seat. If the event were to have been presented in a way that highlighted the academic aspect, more student interest would have been piqued, and attendance would have been higher.

It must also be made clear that there is no lack of interest in after school study programs: 37% of survey respondents are willing to attend. While the library’s extended hours and Cocoa Cram Week are definitely a decent starting point, programs that offer the same resources as Cocoa Cram Week that target specific subjects should be considered.

Such study sessions have already been established for various classes such as AP US History and AP Chemistry. Although these programs are usually started with the initiative of the teacher, there is no reason why students cannot take the initiative now. As long as a venue is provided and the event is properly publicized, students are likely to attend. And if the concern is that study sessions take up a lot of the teacher’s time, the teacher’s office hours, whether during school or after school, could be made into a study session to encourage students to come together to study.

After all, if Cocoa Cram Week was able to make such a large impact on finals preparation, who knows how much students could benefit from study sessions for specific subjects throughout the year?