As I returned to campus from Thanksgiving break, I thought to myself how wild it is that we only have three weeks left in the semester. Then I thought to myself how silly it is that students vacate campus for a week, heading home across the country or in some cases across the globe, only to make the trek back and subsequently leave again at the semester’s end. Not only is this scheduling a hassle, it can also be financially challenging for families given how expensive transportation to and from Kenyon is. Moreover, the timing of our Thanksgiving and winter breaks do not align well with the academic calendar.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for students to rest and relax, but with impending finals it is almost impossible to disconnect entirely from one’s schoolwork. This dilemma is made worse by the fact that many professors set deadlines for major assignments during the week we return from Thanksgiving break. Around this time of year, there are few students who aren’t stressed, burnt out or overwhelmed by their work — this is true of go-getters and procrastinators alike. Kenyon must reconsider its academic calendar and other policies so as to not stress out its students and to ease the financial burden on families.
Kenyon could put more effort into providing students with accessible and free or inexpensive transportation options. Travel to and from the Columbus airport is notoriously inconvenient and expensive, and the College provides only a few shuttles each break, which fill up quickly and only come to campus every few hours. Especially given Kenyon’s remote location, travel to and from school is a deceptively large expense for families, as one could feasibly spend thousands of dollars on rides and flights over the course of four years.
Alternatively, students could have the option to stay home after Thanksgiving break through the end of the semester to avoid excessive travel. This is perhaps one relic of the pandemic era worth bringing back, as students in the fall of 2020 did not return to campus after Thanksgiving break and did their finals remotely. Another option would be to transition to a trimester system. For example, Carleton College has finals before Thanksgiving and gives its students the entire month of December off.
In any event, it is bad policy to only have two weeks of routine instruction after Thanksgiving break, and students stand to benefit greatly should this policy be changed.
Milo Levine ’23 is a columnist for the Collegian. He is an economics major from Mill Valley, California. You can contact him at email@example.com.