Ah, autumn. It’s a magical time of year when brilliant gold and crimson leaves are gently carried away with a breeze.
It’s also a time when students are cramming for their midterms and struggling to keep up with their assignments – a time when a fall reading week would be gratefully welcomed. Students are constantly under pressure. They must work to pay off loans, study to maintain good grades, socialize to make friends, participate in school activities to have fun, get enough sleep to concentrate in class, visit family, and relax. Unfortunately, doing all those things is a lot harder than it seems.
“I think a fall reading week would be beneficial to all NAIT students,” said NAIT student Ashley Wilkie. “Not only would it ease the stress for new students coming to post-secondary, it would help those long-term students stay focused on their studies.”
The idea has already taken route in other institutions, she said.
“Several universities have already incorporated a fall reading week because they understand that students may become overwhelmed with assignments, midterms and projects and may require the time to catch up on such items.”
Wilkie is in her second program at NAIT and having been a student for nearly four years, she finds it appealing to having extra time to visit family or work more hours to pay off tuition, in addition to having more time to study.
She was quick to exclaim that she would “most definitely lobby for fall reading week,” if an opportunity arose, even though she is in her final semester of Construction Engineering Technology.
Mental health also plays a role in students’ reasoning for wanting time off.
“School can get very stressful,” says Jenna Chadi, a Geological Technology student in her fourth semester. “It would be nice to have a week off to relax from all the work.” Second-year Business Administration student Tara Nickelychuk agrees, adding that “many would also use the week to catch up on assignments and get ahead of their class.”
Whether the break is used for work or not, both agree that it would be beneficial in the long run.
Katie Spencer, NAIT Students’ Association VP External, urges students and instructors alike to contact her with their opinions.
“Instructor requests are also very persuasive,” she says. “We have had a few instructors contact NAITSA and ask us to lobby for a fall reading week for the benefit of their students. Considering MacEwan and U of A’s recent switch to a fall reading week, I believe it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when NAIT decides to implement one.”
NAIT plans its academic schedules years in advance but Spencer is cautiously optimistic that a fall reading week could happen as early as 2018 or 2019. For that to happen, NAITSA needs more feedback from students and instructors before they can formally lobby the administration. This topic will be included in NAITSA’s annual survey.
As a business student, Spencer does get time off for midterm week but for many students in more intensive programs, that is not an option. If fall reading week is instituted, class time would have to be made up either at the beginning or end of the semester.
“Like any student, I would love an additional week off,” she says, adding that as a NAITSA representative, she is constantly thinking about what would be best for the most students. So, when it comes to fall reading week, mental health once again becomes a powerful factor. Spencer emphasizes that “If this change were to help even one student through a challenging situation, then absolutely it is worth it.”
– Erin Spiller