Final exams are right around the corner, which means undergrads here at Bryant should be finishing up their coursework and looking ahead to studying for exams. Unfortunately, Bryant students don’t have the luxury of a reading day this semester. Reading days are days set aside by colleges and universities after classes and before final exams to allow students to study and prepare for exams. The vast majority of our peer institutions grant their students a window of time to prepare for exams, but this semester, Bryant never included a reading period in the academic calendar.
Many students here will have to attend classes through Tuesday December 13th, and jump right into exams the very next day. This, on top of final term papers, projects, and involvements in campus organizations can be a lot for students to handle, and translate to more stress, less preparation time for exams, and ultimately poorer academic performance.
Upperclassmen who have had reading days each semester throughout their undergraduate studies were not happy to hear the day had been pulled from the schedule. “It’s upsetting” commented Senior Jillian Gaudet “I have three classes the day before finals.”
Meanwhile, students at Bentley are given the Tuesday before exams off, allowing them an extra day to study, or finish final papers. Babson students are given the Friday before exams off, as a reading day, allowing them three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) without classes to prepare for exams.
Many colleges and universities go further, offering their students a reading period, consisting of multiple days in a row off from classes to prepare for exams. Students at nearby Providence College, for example, are granted both Thursday and Friday off, giving them four total days without classes to prepare. Not to be outdone, Ivy League Brown University grants their students that Thursday and Friday, plus the following Monday (at the discretion of their professors) as reading days, giving their undergraduates five days in a row off of classes study and prepare for exams.
Nearly all of Bryant’s peer institutions recognize the importance reading days have on student’s study habits, and exam performance. For many students here at Bryant, jumping from classes, right into exams simply doesn’t provide enough time to adequately prepare for Wednesday exams. While students should no doubt be studying days and weeks in advance of exams, having classes the day before can force students to cram information the night before an exam, which is a far less effective practice than spreading out last minute studying across several days.
The opportunity to have an extra day off of classes before exams to study is an important one. This opportunity for exam preparation shouldn’t be left to the discretion of those who create the academic calendar. Students at Bryant deserve a mandated reading day that is solidified in the academic calendar from semester to semester. The University should even consider making this day a Friday or Monday, to give students a three day period without classes.
It’s no secret that Bryant prides itself on unique and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. The very fact that Bryant is so academically unique is what makes this school great. From small class sizes, to flipped classrooms, Bryant does many unique things that are highly beneficial to the student body. Jumping from classes right into exams however, is not one of them. After all, what good is a semester of hard work if students don’t have ample time to prepare for final exams?
Giving students a reading period, consisting of several weekdays in a row off of classes might be a bit much, but if given a day, students would no doubt put that time to good use by studying for exams, or working on final projects. Not to mention, adding a reading day to the schedule seems entirely feasible. It wouldn’t require an overhaul of the academic calendar, like adding a reading week would.
Bryant should make sure this year is the last year without reading days. Reverting back to the old schedule, which included a reading day, is a simple step the University can take that would solidify the message to students that the University values their academic performance, and wants them to succeed.