Read It and Weep: We Need Actual Reading Days

As finals week creeps ever closer, students across NYU’s many schools are scrambling to study for their upcoming exams. Although this process has been — and will always be — a stressful one, this mad end of the year madness has usually been aided by one very special university-wide calendrical addition: Reading Days. These extensions to the academic calendar are the overworked Bobcat’s best friend. Usually taking the place of anywhere from one to seven scheduled class days that immediately precede finals week, Reading Days are time set aside by the university for students to work on exam-prep, finish up end of the year assignments or just generally attempt to piece their lives together in the wake of yet another stressful semester. However, this year, NYU’s official Reading Days fall on the weekend — Dec. 17 and 18, to be exact — which essentially gives Bobcats zero additional days to study for finals.

This does a disservice to students, who deserve that allotted extra time to prepare for the semester’s exams. Placing these days on the weekend, instead of on actual class days, does nothing to help students manage their busy studying schedules, and instead only adds to the culture of academic stress at NYU. Students under this weekend Reading Day schedule have to balance all of their finals prep with their scheduled university coursework and their usual weekend activities. Having these days — which are usually set aside for rest and reflection — when no classes are scheduled completely negates their purpose and reflects a serious lack of forethought on the part of the university.

At other colleges, Reading Days are considered a priority when it comes to planning the year’s university calendar, as their existence has a direct impact on the mental health and academic success of their students. Harvard sets aside six to seven days for their Reading Period — which is described as “a time for students to reflect, review, and synthesize what they have learned during the semester” — and Columbia designates three to four days as university-wide Study Days. By setting aside these additional days for study and reflection, colleges show students that their academic success and preparedness is the school’s first priority.

NYU’s choice to place its two Reading Days on the weekend — and to only have two Reading Days allotted to begin with — sends a very different message. If the university truly wants to foster an environment that encourages schoolwide academic achievement and growth, it needs to properly set its students up for success. This starts with ensuring that NYU students have access to the benefits — like Reading Days — that those at other universities do.

A version of this article appeared online and in the Monday, December 5th print edition of the Washington Square News. 


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