Cramming for finals late at night is one experience many college students can relate to. However, students throughout the USF System will soon have more time to avoid late nights the last week of class.
The USF System academic calendar was adjusted Wednesday to accommodate for two reading days at the last Thursday and Friday of the spring 2016 semester, with later adjustments on the way for reading days in future academic calendars. Reading days are days before finals week set aside for preparing for final exams and projects, and no class periods, other exams or assignments can be scheduled on those days.
Student Body President Andy Rodriguez said the two days before the start of finals week will give students more time to properly prepare for their finals and better manage stress during one of the most nerve-wracking times of the semester.
“(Reading days) gives students an opportunity to prepare for the most important part of the year every single year,” Rodriguez said. “It’ll also give them an opportunity to be less stressed out, which is one of the big things that really bogs students down during that last week.”
There seems to be differing opinions among Florida universities on whether or not to implement reading or study days before finals week. UCF sets aside one study day before finals week on its spring 2016 academic calendar, UF sets aside two and UNF sets aside three. FSU and FIU, on the other hand, do not have reading days listed on their spring 2016 academic calendars.
Reading days were part of Rodriguez and Student Body Vice President Michael Malanga’s campaign platform when they ran for office this spring, and Rodriguez said he received a large amount of positive feedback from students for the policy.
“It was almost like there was consensus around campus that this is something students want and wanted for a while,” he said.
After gaining student body and senate support for reading days, Rodriguez said members of Student Government pitched the policy to Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Miller, Provost Ralph Wilcox and President Judy Genshaft.
In an email to USF’s Academic Affairs and other members of the USF System on Wednesday, Wilcox stated the addition of reading days was discussed with academic and faculty leaders across the USF System. He also stated reading days fall under the definition of outside coursework and conform to the definition of a credit hour. As a result, the new academic calendar complies with the principles and standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional body in charge of granting accreditation to colleges and universities in the Southern states.
Natalia Colon, a junior majoring in public relations, said she had never previously heard of reading days but thinks they would help a lot when finals week is looming on the horizon.
“Instead of adding more stress on top of finals with different assignments and readings, it’s a lot nicer to be able to prepare for what finals will bring,” Colon said.
She said extra study time would have been nice when she faced one of her most challenging finals weeks two years ago and had to go three nights without sleep while studying for a final exam in a previous math class.
Chitrang Desai, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, had also never heard of reading days, but thinks the extra study time would help him better prepare for finals week. Desai said he could have used reading days in spring when he was preparing for two final exams and a final project in his Thermodynamics and Mechanics of Materials classes.
“The project went well … but I didn’t do as well on the final exam as I would have done if I had more time to worry about the project,” Desai said.
Spring 2016’s reading days are Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29, and the semester will end Wednesday, April 27 as a result.