Reading days – extra days to study for exams after classes, during or before exam week – are in short supply at the University of Connecticut.
The official stance from UConn is that students are given the standard two reading days – one on Sunday, the other on Thursday of the exam week.
“UConn has a reading day scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 17, in addition to the prior Sunday, which is also considered a reading day,” university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz, said.
However, students are questioning whether a weekend day should count as a reading day and how helpful the Thursday reading day actually is.
Reitz also mentioned that the semester ends on Saturday. Yet, on the university registrar’s academic calendar, only that Thursday, Dec. 17, is specified as a reading day. Friday, Dec. 11, is the official last day of classes, final exams start on Monday, Dec. 14, and end on Sunday, Dec. 20.
Brenna Frechette, a fifth-semester biology major, is not a fan of the midweek reading day, and believes UConn should have two concrete weekday reading days in place.
“I think reading days should be at least two days, one early in the week and one later,” Frechette said. “I have four exams during finals week, but all of them are before Thursday, so that reading day doesn’t even benefit me.”
Reitz explained the midweek reading day as a decision made after much deliberation from the university community. Reading days have been an ongoing discussion at UConn, and former university President Michael Hogan formed a committee in 2009 that looked into altering UConn’s schedule.
“As part of providing feedback to that committee about the academic calendar, many students raised the issue of needing a midweek reading day,” Reitz said.
Several students expressed concern about studying for a final five or more days away. The students argued this wasn’t an effective study method, so reading days should be in close proximity to the exam, according to Reitz.
“That’s what prompted the midweek concept. The committee selected Thursday since it was essentially the midpoint between the exam week,” Reitz said. “The semester ends on a Saturday, so the first reading day is Sunday. That is followed by three days of exams, another reading day and the remainder of the exams.”
Joey Janice, a fifth-semester economics major, took a bit of a middle ground on the matter, though, in his estimation, weekends did not count as reading days.
“I think the necessity of reading days depends on your individual exam schedule, but if you have bunched exams, by all means reading days would be helpful. Without them, students are tempted to skip the last classes of the semester in order to gain extra study time,” Janice said.
“I think the most beneficial schedule would be to have a reading day before the start of finals week and one in the middle to accommodate all students' schedules,” he said.
Each college and university has unique rules for reading days. Occidental College in California recently lamented their lack of reading days, but they have four, including weekend days. Harvard University has a full week, after regular classes end, just devoted to reading days. Rutgers University, like UConn, has two reading days, but students there are asking for more. At Fordham University, when reading days were cancelled due to school closure post-Hurricane Sandy, some students argued that their peers should use their time more wisely, while others called for the reinstitution of reading days.
Sten Spinella is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.