On the surface, beginning the fall semester after Labor Day sounds like a great idea.
Shortening the semester by a week would give students an extra week to earn money working their summer jobs, or at least give them an extra week to relax before heading back to school.
But the rumblings that there could be a change to the academic schedule, which could begin in the fall of 2014, would ultimately do more harm than good to the student body.
One of CMU’s signature programs, the Leadership Safari orientation program, could find itself on the chopping block. Leadership Safari gives incoming freshmen who participate a head start on everyone else as they learn the campus and meet new friends and university leaders. Cutting back the fall semester to after Labor Day might mean the end of this one-of-a-kind program, thus eliminating a potentially powerful recruiting tool.
Furthermore, it also eliminates, in essence, a good break for students.
It’s fair to assess that the fall semester is tougher than the spring semester, because of the lack of breaks.
But having Labor Day off quietly means a lot, giving new students time to figure out what they are missing in their rooms or what items they need as many traditionally head home for the extended weekend.
In addition, it’s not fair to professors to force them to teach the same amount of material in a shortened amount of time. It could be argued that students would be missing out on vital lessons and experiences, and therefore the student’s education would suffer.
That’s not saying there are not positives to a potential 14-week schedule.
But is it really worth feeling rushed for 14 weeks in order to just have an extra couple of weeks of break time?
If CMU is going to institute beginning classes after Labor Day, it also needs to consider the possibility of instituting a fall break for students.
The curriculum needs to be looked at to ensure students have the same opportunities to get as much as they can out of classes and CMU needs to figure out a way to keep influential programs like Leadership Safari around.