While recently discussing the many perks of his job, my history professor mentioned that he no longer has the autonomy that he once did.
“I used to be able to make my own hours,” he said. “But now I start off my day at 12:30 with you guys, who are just rolling out of bed.”
Looking around at the grins on students’ faces, I realized that, like me, many students in the class had probably woken up just minutes before. In high school, I was glad to have a first period free that allowed me to roll out of bed at 8:15 a.m.; now my schedule works in such a way that I never have to rouse until about 11 a.m. or noon.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the flexibility to start his Mondays off with a 12:30 class about Bruce Springsteen. Some students in the hard sciences have no choice but to take earlier classes, such as one required Biology class that only offers 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. slots. For majors that are heavy with requirements, avoiding an early-morning seminar is often hard to do.
A 2004 Duke University study showed that students sleep an average of six to seven hours a night as opposed to the minimum eight that is highly recommended for college students to function properly. While it’s entirely possible that these Duke students performed incorrect calculations due to lack of sleep, the results suggest that students should not be forced to take early morning classes. Many students who do so find themselves dependent on caffeine or exhausted and distracted for most of the morning.
The fact is that college students are rarely morning people. We stay up late on weekdays, either because we’re doing work or because “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” isn’t on until midnight. A number of us have to pull off all-nighters every few weeks just to keep up with our workload. A glance into Hillside at 2 a.m. on an average night shows how many students are still imbibing caffeine at that hour.
In a Town Hall Meeting a few months ago, an administrator addressed a question about the difficulty of signing up for courses and why some classes are only offered in the evening. He answered that, quite simply, many students will not wake up for 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. classes, and so the time slots are pushed back. This is one solution, but it raises a slew of other problems.
When I come back to my dorm at 7 a.m. Thursday mornings after marathon sessions at a certain campus newspaper, two things surprise me: that the sun is already up and that a good number of students are up and walking around. Most of them are athletes, on the way to the gym with grumpy looks on their faces and a long workout ahead of them. I’m glad that I do not have the same obligation, but at the same time, I realize that those students will be up and ready to enjoy the day hours before I groggily fall out of bed at 12 p.m. If I were more like them, I too would know that the sun comes up before noon in Rochester.
Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.