For the first time since the fall of 2019, a complete 15-week, in-person semester has unraveled here on Alden Street. The burdensome shift back to classroom learning and how Springfield College students have responded to it is nothing short of remarkable, especially given the late semester end date of December 23.
Oddly enough, it just so happens that every six or seven years, there is a late semester end date. In 2015, residence halls also closed on Dec. 23. Seven years before that, in 2008, they closed on Dec. 22. Due to Springfield’s consistent choice to begin the fall semester after Labor Day, this trend will continue to happen every handful of years, according to Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Mary Ann Coughlin.
“Just before COVID, we looked at the academic calendar to try to look at specific things like when we start and stop each semester,” Coughlin said. “We have pretty much built the calendar around classes starting after Labor Day.”
“It’s part of our strategy to engage students right from the get go, and keep them engaged throughout the semester. As a result, every six or so years we get into this tough window where we back up almost right to Christmas.”
When the final week of each semester approaches, students will typically check out and begin dialing in on the much needed winter break, excited to enjoy holiday time with their family and friends. This year, more than others, it’s a grind to the finish line to submit all assignments and wrap up exams just two days before Christmas.
Because some students live internationally, and some students participate in winter athletics (or a combination of both), this late date has a trickling effect in many aspects.
A few international students have already had to scurry their way back home, finishing the semester online to leave them with time to settle in before their families begin holiday tradition.
“I think there definitely have been some international students who may have had issues with traveling,” Coughlin said.
“But this happens every so often, and usually they will work something out with their professors where they will take their final exam early so they can fly home in time. Because of the travel restrictions in relation to COVID, it’s probably accentuated this situation a little bit more.”
On top of that, winter student athletes are going to witness very quick intercession periods this year. The men’s basketball team, for example, will have just four short days of break before returning to campus to continue their in-season training. A toll will certainly be taken on the Pride, including senior Daryl Costa.
“I feel like the late semester has affected me mentally,” he said.
“From going mostly online to back to normal with in-class learning wasn’t the easiest transition, and to top it off we are ending later than usual which makes our break shorter. It’s almost like we are jumping directly from one semester to the next without that mental relaxation to refresh.”
Coughlin appreciates the patience of the Springfield College community for adapting to the late semester end date, and emphasized she always keeps the students in her mind when mapping out the calendar each year.
“From my perspective, trying to put the academic calendar together is a tough balancing act,” she said.
“I try to look at what’s in the best interest of the students, but with that comes the best interest of the academic experience. We are bound by federal regulations that we have to have 15 weeks of classes including final exam week, so that’s why people are able to see the pattern that exists with the late end date every so often.”
Now with only one week remaining before the page is turned on yet another successful semester, Springfield students can gladly say they won’t encounter another tight deadline like this one for at least several more years.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College