With the 4-1-4 system, students were looking forward to having more time to complete a term’s studies, which should have allowed for a better distribution of homework for classes. What we all ended up getting in the transition, however, was a heavier workload accompanied by no significant stoppage in classes until virtually winter break.
Students expected a better distribution of their workload throughout the term, even though class times were also reduced. Instead of distributing work over the course of the extra five weeks, many students are in classes where more work is assigned than last year. What many of us thought would help with our coursework is actually hurting us and causing more distress.
The lack of any substantial break in this new schedule is also a huge drawback in the new calendar. The one-day “Fall Break” we received was hardly any break at all (in fact, it was a regularly scheduled and mandatory reading day). We had no time to come up for air before midterms, let alone afterward, while other universities in Pennsylvania received at least a three-day break in classes. Students also find it absolutely absurd that the first day we are given off for Thanksgiving is in fact the day of Thanksgiving.
How are students who live across the country supposed to get home in time when classes are scheduled the day before the holiday? If we had started classes for this Fall ’13 term between August 21-28, students would all have been given adequate time off to breathe from the heavy workload that is university-level class work.
None of this can be changed for this year. However, the Board of Trustees, or whomever it is that works up the schedule for the school year, should keep these things in mind when making the schedule for the 2014-15 school year. Many students are struggling to keep their heads above water this year, and taking these ideas into consideration for next year will help immensely. Otherwise, this university would be better off back on a trimester system.