Fall reading week would reduce stress and ease anxious freshmen
Capilano University’s administration is currently assessing the need for the implementation a fall reading week. The existing annual spring reading week, which took place from Feb. 14 to 17 this year, was a time for students to examine how well they were doing with their studies, recuperate and prepare for the semester’s forthcoming assignments and exams. With spring reading week proving to be beneficial for students, its fall equivalent would be sure to help ease them into the new school year and give a much-needed chance to recharge before returning to complete the semester in full swing.
A fall reading week would give students the chance to assess their progress on course work, review outstanding assignments and prepare for upcoming midterms. In particular, it would help ease anxious freshmen into a new university learning environment. Many Canadian universities have already implemented fall reading break policies in order to satisfy student demand for a smoother and more flexible progression into the semester. According to Paul Irish of the Toronto Star, 11 of Ontario’s 20 publicly funded universities have allocated two to five days for the Fall break in either October or November. CapU could easily follow suit and determine which time frame works is the most advantageous for students.
As students try to balance course loads with financial pressures, part- and full-time jobs, rigorous competition and high expectations, stress levels are at a high. Students are also more than likely to face mental health challenges, with Statistics Canada reporting that youth aged 15 to 24 are more likely to suffer from depression, mood disorders, anxiety, panic disorders, substance abuse and other conditions.
A 2013 article in the Globe and Mail also described loneliness and suicidal thoughts as issues faced by a significant portion of university students. With suicide leading as the second highest cause of death for Canadian youth aged 10 to 24, the significance of these factors should not be diminished. During fall reading week, students would be able to catch up on missed sleep, manage stress levels and reflect on their academic and career goals before continuing on their journey of education.
There will be some adjustments that will have to be made by the university, but nothing that students or faculty can’t overcome. Instructors may need to adjust their course schedules in order to accommodate for the new fall reading week, meaning that students may experience moderate changes to the amount of work assigned before or after their reading week, but students who are struggling with course work will be able to use the break to get a head start on upcoming assignments or seek tutoring.
Students enrolled in school who are completing internships or practicums to fulfill their course hours, or programs such as nursing that require a precise quantity of instructional hours, will have an undecided fate as to how their programs can handle a fall reading break. However, this can be addressed through various measures such as determining eligibility for the fall reading week on a case-by-case basis or via the decision by the program faculty.
When it comes to evaluating the effects a fall reading week would have on students, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. With less stress and the opportunity to improve focus, the benefits are as clear as sky. Incoming freshmen will have greater ease familiarizing themselves with the CapU schedule and course load. Students will most likely feel rested enough to tackle the challenging, yet manageable tasks ahead of them.
All in all, a fall reading week should prove to be favourable to CapU students in providing the recovery time and health benefits necessary to succeed and feel motivated in university.
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