Discourse / Editorials / November 16, 2011

Thoughts from the Embers: Evaluating next year’s new academic calender

Two weeks ago, a few changes were made to next year’s academic calendar: the addition of a mid-term winter Reading Day and an additional Reading Day at the end of each term. While this was originally done as a way to give additional relief before finals, it likely will cause more trouble to an already unorthodox and short college schedule.

With the new Reading Days come a loss of already limited class time. This added pressure on professors will hinder their ability to fully teach a class in an already short 10-week period and might cause easier finals.

While more Reading Days does give students a greater chance to study, it gives less of an opportunity to learn from the knowledgeable professors at Knox, which is not the best choice of the two options.

While at the moment we may not think finals are a good thing, they provide a vital part of a college education. With easier finals or no finals at all professors would be unable to fully assess what the student has learned.

Another issue is the mid-term winter Reading Day. This would be a successful day off if we had a scheduled week for midterms. Unfortunately this is not the case. Classes have a wide variety of midterm placements, and this day could easily become a winter Flunk Day, a wasted day that could have been spent in the classroom.

The new academic calendar also increases the chance of a Reading Day landing on a weekend. This really doesn’t give students any additional time to study for finals. If finals land on a weekend, they should be moved to the coming Monday and no Reading Days should be given. We at Knox would take use of the weekend before finals just as we do with a Reading Day.

The new calendar hoped to improve the school year for students, but it failed to address bigger issues with the schedule. From classes ending very close to Thanksgiving during fall term, to the trouble a late release in the spring causes in finding an internship, summer work or a research experience program, the new academic calendar failed to address these problems. With classes ending so late in the spring many students find it difficult to participate in these summer programs or jobs because employers sometimes are unable to shift the start date to fit students’ schedule.

There have likely been numerous attempts to overhaul the academic calendar, but it is a pressing issue that needs change. A complete change is likely to be a bigger project than next year’s Reading Day additions, but the school should look at this issue.

The school could possibly take notice of other trimester schools that are able to get out earlier in the summer. While there are issues with every academic calendar, the school could ponder a shift to something similar to the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s (MSOE) calendar. This year’s calendar for MSOE starts Sept. 8 and students get out of classes May 26. While this schedule does have a midterm winter break, the break is shorter and the schedule would ease up some of the difficulties of getting into a 10-week summer program or internship.

While the merits of these changes are evident in the chance for students to have more time to study, the changes cause more issues than advantages and fail to address some of the bigger issues with our nonstandard academic calendar.

TKS Staff

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