Can’t stress it enough
By Conner Schaeffer
As the number of students enrolled in post-secondary education continues to increase so does the number of students who deal with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.
College and university can be very overwhelming, especially to first-year students, and I believe that incorporating a fall reading week into the first semester would highly benefit students both academically and mentally.
During the past few years, 11 out of 20 universities in Ontario have created a second reading week in the first semester in order to relieve students of stress, anxiety and depression. Locally, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have both created a second reading week for students. Research suggests that creating a fall reading week would benefit the overall success of students as well as their mental health.
I have conducted my own research and I completely agree with creating another reading week. When I asked random students for their opinion on the topic almost every student agreed with having another reading week. When I asked them why they would want another reading week their answers were all very similar; time to relax, study, go home, visit family, and relieve stress.
It is unfair to assume that the second semester of school is more difficult or stressful than the first. So it is unfair to assume that a reading week in second semester is any more creditable than a reading week in first semester. Both semesters require equal participation and study, so both semesters should offer equal time off for students.
To many students, first semester can be the most stressful. First-year students are amongst those who feel this way.
These students, as young as 17, are often straight out of high school. They are living in a new city, often far away from home. They are forced to leave their old friends and make new ones, they deal with everyday stress such as money, transportation and the sheer difference of the workload that is now expected of them.
These students are thrown into a new environment, living on their own, and must become very independent very quickly. A week off to these students could be the difference between them dropping out because they cannot adjust fast enough, or succeeding because they can take the week’s break mid-semester to organize their studies, finances, and social lives. To first-year students, as well as international students, a fall reading week could significantly benefit their post-secondary experience.
Students are prone to anxiety and depression, and the number of students who are affected by these mental health issues continues to rise. Although a fall reading week would not eliminate student mental health issues, I believe that it could certainly help control the situation and even decrease the number of students who suffer every year.
The academic world is changing and the role of the post secondary student is more stressful today than it has ever been. Algonquin needs to embrace this change and do what is best for the overall success and mental health of its students by creating a fall reading week.
Don’t read too much into it
By Hillary Robert
Reading week seems to be at the top of every students’ priority list this time of year. Midterms get rough and all of a sudden, students feel they need a study week.
A breakdown of the college and university schedule system is required to fully understand why we get so much time off. A year is broken down into three semesters: winter, summer and fall. The combined total weeks in school for those three semesters is equal to that of what a high school or elementary school student would be required to attend in order to proceed into their following year.
The kicker? More than 80 per cent of post-secondary students in Ontario are only required to attend two semesters per annum.
A post-secondary semester consists of between 13-16 weeks of classwork and a one to two week exam period scheduled by the school. Algonquin has 15 week semesters.
The average Ontario student pays $4,275 in tuition per year, according to Ontario Colleges. This does not include any fees issued by the government, college or student organization. This also does not include the costs associated with books and equipment required by most programs.
That is just over $164 per week.
If we throw an additional week off into the mix, not only will the cost of tuition likely stay the same or increase, but the solutions are either to extend the school year by an extra week or remove the 13th week of classes entirely. That means we’ll be paying more money for less time and education.
I’d rather just get it over with, thanks.
Students that actually study over reading week should receive a medal. According to a trend noted by many travel agencies in Ontario, the spring reading week is the most popular time of year to travel to Caribbean destinations. If a fall reading week is implemented, I’m sure that travel agencies will be thrilled.
But you can’t tell me beer pong and flirting really constitute as studying for physics and biology midterms.
Student suicide rates are often brought to light in discussion panels regarding the implementation of a fall reading week. Unfortunately, there have yet to be any conclusive studies regarding an extra week off lowering suicide rates in colleges and universities.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, the most common reason for suicide in young adults aged 18-24 is depression as a result of abusive relationships, bullying and a family history of psychological disorders.
The CDC has also noticed a trend in suicide rates among homosexual or questioning individuals in an unsupportive family or community environment.
To put it frankly, a week off in the month of October is not going to help deal with any of those listed issues. If anything, schools offer positive support networks and can act as a distraction.
The next time somebody asks you whether or not you want a reading week, don’t just think about taking some time off, consider everything else. Do you honestly believe you will spend a week off being productive and focusing on your studies? Do you want to elongate your overall time in school? Do you want to pay more for less time getting an education?