The University of Wisconsin needs to fix their break schedule. I have spent the past week of this break sleeping in, watching TV and wishing my friends were still in town. I do not think I am alone in that respect, especially among out-of-state students.

We all know UW’s academic calendar is wacky. I would take that assertion one step further and say it is poorly designed and negatively affects students’ college experience. The calendar we currently stay on has many issues.

The most glaring issue that jumps out to me is our finals end far too late. The fact that we spend all of December in the library preparing for finals instead of watching Christmas movies with family and friends is really frustrating as a student. Especially because almost every college in the country seems to be able to find a way to send their students home in time to spend the holidays with their families.

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The past two years I have come home for Christmas on the 22 and 23. I have missed out on numerous holiday traditions that my family holds dear, and was forced to hear about all the fun details from the south stacks of Memorial Library.

This issue compounds into the second main issue with UW’s academic schedule, which is our late start to the second semester. We end up with almost a month off, and do not start classes again until late January. A nice long break sounds awesome at first, but ends up becoming a waste of time for many.

Our break is long, yet ends up being quite useless. It is obviously great to relax during the holidays after stressful semesters of coursework, but eventually, that relaxation turns into something resembling hibernation.

UW does not offer classes over their extended break like other colleges, so using the break to advance academically is not a possibility. Furthermore, it is hard to gain employment for one month. This leaves students home on break with not many opportunities to make the time productive.

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Fortunately there is a solution to these issues. Pushing the start of fall classes a week or two earlier could eliminate these issues, and have many other benefits.

If we were to start school in late August instead of waiting until September, we would instantly alleviate the issue of finals running too late in the year. An earlier start to classes would mean an earlier end, allowing students to spend valuable time with their families during the buildup to the holidays.

Starting earlier in the year would also allow us to extend our Thanksgiving break to a full week, which is a genius move already implemented by other schools. By taking off a full week for Thanksgiving, students would not only get more time with family during the holidays, but it would also give them a well-deserved rest before finals season arrives and cans of beer are traded for cups of black coffee.

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This earlier push to start the year would give the administration the ability to improve winter break as well. They could leave our spring semester start date where it is, and have enough time to offer January term classes. 

All of these options would be improvements over our current winter break, which gives us the worst of both worlds.

Our administration needs to take steps to improve the current academic calendar that robs students of Christmas-time fun, and creates an ineffective and drawn-out winter break. There is no reason to wait until September to start classes.

Eric Hilkert ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in finance.