On the Future of Study Day(s)

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We’ve been hoping to see an agreeable resolution since it was discovered that we’d only have one study day this semester.  Thanks to student government intervention, we now have two days, but many students still have to leave just two days before Christmas, a time of higher fares and overbooked flights.

Columbia has traditionally started school the day after Labor Day.  Since Labor Day fell on September 7 this year, classes started late and exams had to end on December 23.  In addition, our Fall Break is shorter than many institutions’.

This is a problem that will repeat every five or six years.  September 7, 2015 is the next time the proposed academic calendar shows only one study day, but for the next two fall semesters, exams will end on December 23.

There would appear to be a simple solution to this problem: start classes before Labor Day.  This quick fix has proven hard to implement, however.  According to student government sources, classes begin after Labor Day to accommodate faculty who send their children to New York City public schools, which start after Labor Day.  In addition, shifting the first day of classes back would mean messy changes to the summer term and COOP-like programs and a shorter schedule to ready dorms for students.

Whether this pattern will ever change remains to be seen.  The process of calendar-writing is difficult: it is first proposed by the Registrar and is given to the Senate for approval.  Ultimately, the Trustees must accept it.  Currently, Columbia is planning the 2010-2020 academic calendars and are meeting on Friday to finalize them.  Let’s hope they choose to give us students a break and a chance to breathe during the semester.



  1. this is columbia  

    let's hope? that's it? let's protest. that's more appropriate.

  2. Actually...  

    Many people do have exams on the 16th. I don't know why, but the school appears to have gone ahead and scheduled exams during a technical study day. Pretty weird.

    • Person  

      The normal Columbia policy to criticism is to officially roll over immediately but not actually change anything. To the casual observer it looks like they have responded so they save face, but they do not have to perform the odious task of actually changing anything.

  3. dudester

    What did the school do the last time this happened? (besides fuck us hard)

  4. international  

    this news is worse for international students, especially those who live in asia because we will then MISS Christmas. if we are unfortunate enough to have an exam the afternoon of the 23rd and a plane ride on the morning of the 24th, we will arrive on the 26th. sweet huh. a day of opening presents and being with family completely missed. this blows.

  5. international2  

    I agree, international students will be the worst hit. If west coasters are cringing about overbooked flights and high fares, can you imagine an international student's situation?
    I know people who aren't going to be home for Christmas at all. And given that international students see their families one maybe two times a year, getting to spend almost no time with them due to having to fly out so late is depressing.

  6. cc '08

    Everyone knows that no exams really start until that Friday when Lit Hum/CC/some languages have exams start. There's always the de-facto study days of Tuesday-Thursday, people. I remember checking the exam catalogs when I was there, and the only classes with exams I remember on Wednesday and Thursday were certain grad. classes. CC/SEAS are generally untouched and have the three day study period!!!

  7. cc 11

    actually, I had two finals scheduled for the 23rd this year. they both got rescheduled to become an in-class final on the 14th (last day of regular classes) and a take-home final (due the 18th, second day of exams), which means I basically have NO study days.

    • rescheduling  

      seems like taking 23rd finals and putting them on the last day of class is widely being done where it's feasible, which is a good/bad thing. maybe this will become the unwritten rule.

  8. well

    Fat chance at anything changing.

    As a rule, the school first does what's best for the administration. The status quo is always the best for the administration because it requires taking no action. Second, it does what the faculty want. In this case, the faculty wants the status quo. Don't forget that a large number of the faculty don't teach (and therefore don't care about) undergraduates. Once these concerns are addressed, the students then get to choose from what's left - in this case, probably weekend exams.

    If you really wanted to make a legitimate argument, look at what other university schedules look like, and make an argument from educational superiority (i.e. our peer schools have the following schedule, which gives them the flexibility to X, Y, and Z academically. Remember, no one here really cares about your convenience. They have to make a pretense of caring about your education.)

    All that being said, quit yer belly achin'. The law school doesn't even give the election day break off to its students, and its winter break is always a week shorter than the rest of the University.

  9. cc '08

    hmmm, i guess that would be why classes of '09--> miss out!!

  10. 1 day  

    I have gone from never starting finals until monday, to only have one study day because have a final 9am the 16th, then a non-language/non CC/LITHUM final friday morning. Kiss passing grades goodbye

  11. int.  

    due to having an exam scheduled for the afternoon of the 23rd, and the adminstration PUBLISHING THE EXAM SCHEDULE SO DAMN LATE, i won't be able to FLY until the 27th because of the lack of available flights. And because i'm an international student, i won't be able to get home until the 28th.

    thanks a bunch columbia.

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