The Weigh-In: 7 a.m. classes
Mike Hajmasy AGAINST –
WLU students were recently faced with two equally unappealing alternatives: Saturday classes or a 7:00 a.m. start. Yikes. Laurier administration seems to have chosen the latter, introducing 7:00 a.m.classes for business students. If there was any debate surrounding this decision at all, it clearly didn’t consider the ‘cons’ list carefully enough, so allow me to retort.
It’s common knowledge that there exists a direct correlation between adequate sleep and academic success. In case you aren’t convinced, Grace Fleming discusses this in her article “Teens and Sleep Deprivation” on About.com. She acknowledges that most students don’t get enough sleep — does this problem sound familiar?
University courses are demanding and students are being spread increasingly thin, leading many to ‘burn the midnight oil’ in an effort to keep up. How can a 7:00 a.m. start time possibly promote student success if we can almost guarantee that it will limit the opportunity to regenerate?
The University Health Center, which is affiliated with the University of Georgia, echoes the belief that sleep is an integral part of student success. They report that lack of sleep can negatively impact mood, overall health, and GPA.
According to this source, students should aim to catch eight hours of sleep every night in order to properly recharge both body and mind (ah, Zen). If the goal is eight hours of sleep, an earlier start means an earlier bedtime. Now, I can’t speak on behalf of all students, but I can say with some level of certainty that most are awake to see the clock strike midnight.
For 7:00 a.m. classes, this means an average wake up time of 6:30 a.m., and in order to reach the optimal eight hours, students have to hit the sack by 10:30 p.m. Ha, yeah right.
I’ve only considered students who live on or near campus, but there are a number of students who commute every day. Last fall I met a girl who had to drive an hour and a half to Waterloo, meaning she had to leave home by 7:00 a.m. to get to our 8:30 a.m. class.
Now imagine this is the case for a student enrolled in one of the 7:00am classes — they would need to be leaving home by 5:30 in the morning.
Students are being asked to put in two to three hours of work for every hour of class, find a work-life balance, and for some, find the time to hold a part time job. They are also being asked to do all of this without allowing themselves any real opportunity to rest.
Early classes are a bad idea and will do very little to promote student success. Unless this trend reverses and the university accepts that students need time to refuel, the model image of a successful, involved, and sociable student will exist only in a dream.
Dani Saad – FOR
I am by no means a morning person. Anyone that knows me at all knows that I like staying up late and sleeping in. I am often grumpy, quiet and pretty much useless for the first couple hours I am awake, especially if there isn’t a coffee involved.
Waking up for early class has always been difficult for me. I have always been envious of those morning people who have had breakfast, gone for a run, and written an essay before I have even made it into the shower. And it has nothing to do with not enjoying class – I usually have a great time once I am there – but the act of getting out of bed itself is a huge obstacle to overcome. So, I truly do understand the backlash over 7:00 a.m. classes, but I think it’s misplaced. Early classes are a necessary evil and instead of complaining about it, we should focus on getting to class and doing our best.
There comes a point when we have to take some accountability for our time here at Laurier and our educational experience in general. Waking up early and heading to class tired isn’t fun for staff or students, but it’s something that we have to do. The move to earlier classes was made out of necessity not choice.
As it currently stands, there is not enough room on campus to accommodate students. The idea of Saturday classes was rightly met with furious opposition. Saturday classes disrupt trips home, work schedules, extends the week and cause a massive inconvenience. Early classes extend the week by one hour and a half. In addition, 8:30 a.m. classes already exist. So, making classes an hour and a half early is just not that big of a deal. If I am going to be tired at 7:00 a.m. it is a sure bet I will be tired at 8:30 a.m. as well.
There are definitely studies that will show students aren’t as sharp early in the morning or on little sleep. But I am sure there are studies that show evening classes are not optimal for learning, yet those exist without much attention.
If sleep is the problem, try going to bed early and if that is impossible then try to find time for a nap. If a nap can’t happen, then catch up the next night.
As someone who has balanced work and school for years, being tired is a reality of being a student. We signed up for it and it’s disingenuous to act surprised when we aren’t as well rested.
It can be argued that everything is relative, but complaining about early classes while a significant part of the world craves access to education seems awfully petty. That is not to say we should feel guilty about our lifestyles or access to education or anything else.
What we should be doing is embracing the opportunities we do have and realizing how unique our access to education is compared to much of the world. If we can’t get ourselves out of bed in the morning, how badly do we really want to be here?