This semester marked the second year that Dalhousie University had a fall study break.
Last year the fall study break lined up with Remembrance Day, taking advantage of the holiday. Despite Remembrance Day falling on a Saturday this year, students also got the Monday after the study break off as well in lieu of Remembrance Day.
According to Dr. Michael McAllister, Dal’s Registrar, the reason is because the university wanted to give students an earlier study break.
“In this case here, as you might notice, the fall break is quite late in the term. So, the attempt was to say, ‘would it be feasible to move it a little bit earlier,’ so that students have a little bit of time to still complete some work as opposed to just a quick break before exams,” McAllister said.
The fall study break was added to the Academic Calendar after the Dal senate approved the Academic Term Dates Principles policy in April 2015. This policy changed how the academic term dates should be set; now the starting date of the fall term is the Tuesday after Labour Day, and we have a fall study break around the time of Remembrance Day.
McAllister wasn’t the registrar when the policy was created and isn’t sure what the university’s goals were when they created the fall study break. The policy itself doesn’t provide answers to those questions either. However, McAllister believes that it was created for the students’ benefits.
“In the end, it is a really good time for the students to be able to take a breath as they come into the exams, as they finish up the fall, and basically regain some of their energy to finish the fall term,” McAllister said.
McAllister also said that he hasn’t heard any direct feedback about the fall study break, but that “the lack of news is usually saying, ‘It’s working out okay.’”
First-year student, Emma Whyte, thinks that the study break is great and had planned on using it to catch up on her assignments and review her notes.
“Having a reading week makes me want to work more after, ‘cause it’s like they understand we’re really busy and everything so they’re giving us a little bit of time. I’m going to be more prepared for when I come back in the middle of November,” she said.
However, Evan Harjes, another first-year student, doesn’t think students are always using their study breaks for studying.
“It says that it’s supposed to be for studying, but I feel like the majority of people don’t study, ‘cause they take it as more like a break. But, I feel like the break should be more closer to the finals since the midterms are already over, so people find it pointless,” he said.
Although the policy doesn’t state any specific goals, when the senate approved it, members of the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee asked that it run for four years and be reviewed after three.