Christina Charie ’25
Putting on a pair of sweatpants after a long day is always a great feeling; however, many students and staff struggle to find an extra few minutes to relax during their weekly schedules as Providence College adjusts to normal operations. After a year spent on Zoom, many are eager to be social again. The College’s COVID-19 protocol introduced reading days to mitigate stress throughout the pandemic, but these breaks have ceased to exist now that we have resumed “normal” operations. Students and staff alike deserve time to walk around campus on a warm day or watch a few episodes of a Netflix show without feeling the guilt associated with being “lazy.”
COVID-19 brought many of the mental health issues exacerbated within the educational system to light. Many problems that arose during the pandemic existed before but often went unnoticed. Expecting students to manage five exams in one short week is a difficult task both in “normal” times and during a pandemic. Students naturally experience anxiety during midterms and finals and stress is unfortunately a part of college life. Maintaining an open dialogue about mental health on campus is essential if PC wants students to understand this.
However, there are methods, such as reading days, that ease stress surrounding time constraints for studying without diminishing academic standards.
Putting the proper amount of time into research projects and exams is difficult after a student finishes an entire day of classes. Additionally, working incessantly does not always produce high-quality results. When students take a break, they return to class with vitality and readiness. Reading days during the week after long segments of five-day weeks are crucial to overall productivity in the classroom, though it may seem counterintuitive.
Reading days are essential around the midpoint of the semester when many classes are conducting examinations during the regular weekly schedule. The same principle applies to final-exam week at the end of each semester. After taking an exam for two hours, the motivation to study for the next day’s exam is low. Students need time to rest in order to ensure their best performance. A reading day supplies the perfect opportunity for professors to grade exams while students can study without the time constraints of other exams.
While PC can affect individuals through policy changes, all members must be open to a new mindset. All students must be open to recognizing a study break as an effective use of time instead of a waste. Anxiety is normal for college students. Each student’s “best” performance varies depending on their circumstances.
Watching television is not always lazy. Sleep is an essential activity that allows humans to function. Society needs to shift its negative attitudes towards certain strategies that many use for self-care. No individual can work all the time without negative consequences.
These conditions are independent of any global crisis. Students were incredibly stressed even before the onset of COVID-19. One should not overlook effective policies that promote both individual well-being and academic success. While the College should be excited to move beyond pandemic life, the community could become stronger than before. Slowing down for a day during the semester will not cause a disaster. A class meeting will not be effective if students are preoccupied with cramming for an exam.
A single person cannot make every grade and join every club without some help along the way. PC must encourage students and staff to support each other during stressful times to promote overall optimism on campus in a post-pandemic world.