The fall semester can be pretty intense. Students have to get back into the headspace of going to class, there are many assignments, long days at school and lack of sleep. Good thing we have a fall reading week at Algonquin.
Wait, we don’t. But we should.
When I was at Carleton University, one of the greatest things to look forward to in the fall semester was reading week. It gave me, and many other students the opportunity to take a break and relax.
Whether it was actually doing readings, working on assignments, getting ahead in classes, catching up with friends, or most importantly, sleep, it was always beneficial.
When I started at Carleton in 2012, there wasn’t a fall reading week, so I didn’t know what I was missing. However, there was a vote, and out of 8,000 students, 5,655 students voted in favour of a fall break.
During the most recent reading week at Carleton and uOttawa, my friends at both universities wanted me to hang out and catch up on our lives. Obviously, I couldn’t make it.
On Mondays and Tuesdays, I have classes, along with work. Wednesdays and Thursdays are long days on campus. And on Friday I have the opportunity to sleep in so I definitely take advantage of that before I head to class.
And Saturdays and Sundays I work again so I can support my Starbucks addiction.
A reading week at Algonquin could change all of this.
Part of the reason Carleton got a reading week was for mental health reasons..
In 2013 Queen’s University in Kingston conducted a study showing that four per cent of students had thought about suicide in the previous semester and 10 per cent had considered it. This then led to the school being told they should balance exam timetables, train more staff members to see the signs of stress in students and have a fall reading week.
The study can have some relevance to Algonquin students, especially for those coming straight from high school.
For first-year students, most of them come straight from high school and regardless of the preparation high school gives them for university and college, they’re still not prepared for what they are getting into.
For myself, my first year at university and Algonquin was overwhelming and I definitely had to learn how to manage my time quite quickly. And I’m sure this has happened to other students as well.
With a reading week, students wouldn’t be stressed. If it took place in October, it would mean students can relax and organize themselves to prepare for the busy months ahead. We wouldn’t have to worry about long nights awake studying and working on assignments because we can catch up and even get ahead in homework.
Plus, students spend time doing their favourite hobby, or catch up on a show on Netflix before the school semester starts picking up and there may not be the time to do these activities.
At Carleton, some of the cons were that it might be too close to Thanksgiving, giving students a longer break than necessary. Another issue was finals are too close to Christmas break, causing less time for studying and issues for students travelling back home for the holidays.
But none of this outweighs the benefits that would accrue from a fall reading week.
Aside from the mental health break, students can get organized again for the remainder of the semester and that may help them improve their grades. Plus, it would give Algonquin faculty the time to plan for other activities that might have been difficult before.
We were the last ones to get students a U-Pass; let’s add on to it and be the last school to get a fall reading week.
Better late than never, right?