Editorial: Reading period is too short

It’s the end of the semester — classes and extracurriculars are winding down and finals are rapidly approaching. Before we know it, the libraries, Mayer Campus Center, dining halls and dorms will be full of students cramming for their final exams. Reading period begins on Tuesday, April 30 and ends on Thursday, May 2, giving anxious students a mere three days to cram a semester’s worth of knowledge into their brains. While three days may be enough for students who have few or spaced-out exams, it is not enough for most of us.

The reading periods of other comparably competitive schools in the United States put Tufts’ to shame. Among NESCAC schools, Tufts’ reading period is among the shortest; along with Tufts, Bates College and Middlebury College have three-day reading periods, and Connecticut College and Hamilton College have only two days. Trinity College and Wesleyan University have the longest reading periods in the NESCAC, allotting four and five days for review, respectively. Some schools in the Ivy League take pride in their exceptionally long reading review periods; Harvard University and Yale University have seven days, Princeton University has nine days and Brown University tops all others with a whopping 11 full days to study for final exams.

Reserving only three days for review before finals may result in poor academic performance for Tufts students. In the last few weeks of classes, students are still learning new material, doing homework and working as well as attending extracurricular meetings, events and rehearsals. Many students find that the reading period is their only time to completely dedicate themselves to schoolwork and that having only three days forces them to start studying for final exams before reading period begins.

There are both academic and social benefits to having more time between the end of classes and the beginning of exams. Academically, the extra time allows students to thoroughly and adequately absorb 15 weeks worth of material. Students can take advantage of this unstructured time to work on time-consuming projects and papers that would otherwise cut into studying during finals week. Additionally, having a longer reading period allows students to focus on their last few weeks of class without having to delve into intense studying that would potentially affect their performance in class.

Socially, the reading period is a chance to meet up with friends for the last time before the end of the school year. It gives students the opportunity to decompress and take a much-needed breather before the onslaught of final exams.

Tufts needs to extend the reading period. A longer reading period would give students time to study more effectively for their exams, reduce academic stress and improve productivity and performance for final exams, papers and projects. For all of the hard work and long hours that Tufts students put in throughout the semester, it makes sense to encourage hard work and maximize student potential before finals week.