Last Monday, students across the country woke up late, stayed home, and didn’t go to classes. The cause was not a freak snowstorm, it was the observation of Presidents’ Day. Major holidays like Presidents ’ Day and Veterans Day give many students and workers the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend with their friends and family. Not just K-12 schools but also other colleges like the University of Massachusetts enjoy these breaks.
That is, of course, unless you go to the University of Connecticut. The only long weekend students get the entire year is for Labor Day weekend, which is usually the first or second weekend of the fall semester (also technically there is a long weekend at the beginning of the spring semester for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which doesn’t really count because it’s a continuation of winter break). Regardless, the observation of these holidays rather than other ones limits the benefits for students, as they come right at the beginning of the semester when most students have an abundance of free time.
There could be many advantages to giving students a few more long weekends during the year. Both Presidents’ Day and Veterans Day come in the middle of midterm season for many students. A long weekend would yield an extra day not only to study but also to get some rest during one of the busiest parts of the school year. Furthermore, because so many others get these days off, long weekends make an ideal time to go home and visit family. If students do choose this option, they also have more flexibility in the activities they can pursue with their family (leaving Friday and coming back Sunday does not leave much time for, say, a skiing trip up in Vermont).
Of course, there are potential drawbacks and consequences when it comes to reworking the schedule. Having an additional long weekend or two in a semester cuts down slightly on the time professors have to teach in classes. This alone is not too significant, but considering UConn is located in a place where snow days can add up it can end up making a difference.
Additionally, while a long weekend could help students prepare for a test, the shortened week following it would have greater odds of having multiple exams on the same day. This is certainly something most students would want to avoid.
There are strong arguments for both positions on whether or not it would be better to have more long weekends at UConn. It would behoove the UConn administration to take a look at this issue, accept input from students and decide whether they want to proceed with the status quo or give students a brief respite or two each semester.