We need more time

The home stretch of the fall semester is upon us, and with it comes the stress students feel as they pencil final exams, presentations and papers into their agenda books. The anxiety of looming deadlines is universal.

Unfortunately, the lone reading day the University allots students does not afford anyone a chance to ease it.

By the time the end of the semester rolls around, many professors have tried to cram in as many readings, papers and projects as possible in order to finish all of the necessary material before the semester’s end. However, with many professors doing this, most students simply do not have enough hours in the day to finish all of this work.

This is not for lack of a good-faith effort; rather, some students are forced to prioritize their work and often relegate essays and books that they must read simply for class discussion to the bottom of their lists.

Extra reading days would allow time for students to catch up on these readings in addition to adequately preparing for their finals. These reading days would also give students ample time to complete take-home final exams, without having to rush through them in order to spend more time studying for their in-class finals. This aspect is especially important, as more and more professors across all of the academic colleges are beginning to distribute take-home assignments as final evaluations.

And it’s not just about giving students enough time to be able to prepare for all their finals and still squeeze in a few hours of sleep and a couple decent meals.

We spend roughly fifteen weeks listening, reading, and discussing in each of our classes. We spend hours in and out of class trying to understand and connect the concepts presented to us, struggling to glean from our lectures and texts the lessons that will improve us as scholars and people. After a semester of hard work, the conclusion of a class is so often an exercise in exhaustion – a listlessly completed test or a slapdash essay. It is an end that discredits the professor’s efforts and misrepresents the student’s progress.

It seems that many universities on par with Villanova’s academic standards have already realized the benefits of multiple reading days. This term, Georgetown University will allow four full days of class-free studying. Swarthmore University’s schedule includes two. The College of New Jersey allows four reading days before finals begin, then breaks up the exam period by placing a weekend of test-free reading days in the middle of it.

Surely, it wouldn’t hurt for the University to give one of these arrangements a shot. It may be the best way to ensure that students finish the semester having learned things instead of momentarily memorizing them.