The month of November can be a particularly hectic one for college students.
This is about mid-way through the fall semester for most, a time when many are feeling the pressure of semester deadlines and midterm examinations.
This chaos can cause many students to fall behind on essential readings and research for their coursework as they are trying to dedicate a majority of their time to projects attached to large percentages of their grades.
To make up for this, many universities in the United Kingdom and Canada implement a mid-semester recess known as Reading Week, or Revision Week.
This is typically a semester-long break in which professors do not hold lecture, but where students are meant to focus on taking a step back to catch up on rest, reading and research.
All colleges and universities should implement Reading Week to allow their students the necessary time to fully commit to their courses that they are paying so much money to take.
This is especially important for disciplines that rely heavily upon texts.
Personally, as an English literature major, I find professors assigning, at times, up to 150 pages of reading per class, with two class sessions per week.
I’m sure other departments assign similarly strenuous workloads.
Even as someone who loves reading, this is nearly an impossible task while balancing other essential daily tasks, including other classes, projects, extracurricular commitments and work.
College is so expensive that many students must work several part-time jobs just to live paycheck to paycheck.
This is on top of having full-time course loads.
The closest widespread college recess in the United States that Reading Week could be compared to is Thanksgiving break. However, this is, at some schools, only two days added on to a weekend, which hardly leaves enough time to catch up on readings, especially factoring in travel time to Thanksgiving gatherings and spending time with family.
When students don’t have enough time to focus on their coursework (that, keep in mind, they are spending tens of thousands of dollars for) they must resort to Googling summaries online.
Then they are left scrambling to skim them in the few spare minutes they have before class, just so they have something to contribute when they are called on in the class discussion.
This is not what college was meant to be.
When many teenagers dream of their college experience, they think of choosing a discipline that they are passionate about, spending hours gaining expertise in their field, and even having time for a social life.
However, the American system doesn’t work that way.
College in the U.S. is so expensive that students are spending a huge portion of their precious time barely scraping enough money together to pay for rent and groceries, much less put a dent in their rapidly building student loan debt.
By the time that many college students have a few spare moments to commit to their studies, they are too exhausted to have any passion about what they are learning.
How, then, can we expect a generation ready to counter the overwhelming problems of the world at hand (things like climate change, failing economies, war, pandemics and social injustice)?
The American college system is creating a generation of burnt-out young adults who are struggling to find purpose and to find a point in creating a better world.
The least that colleges and universities could do to supplement the students who are the casualties to this corrupt system is to offer them a mere week of time to focus solely on studies without attending lecture on top of it.
A nationally implemented Reading Week wouldn’t be the solution to college burnout, but it would certainly be a start.
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