Give Me A Break: William and Mary’s Calendar Issue

Jamie Holt // The Flat Hat

Lauren Meyer ’24 is planning to major in anthropology and minor in history. Outside of the Flat Hat, Lauren is a member of Swim Club and is also an avid Swiftie. Email Lauren at

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

As the semester comes to a close, many members of the College of William and Mary community look forward to their break plans. Maybe they’re visiting family. Maybe they’re visiting friends. Perhaps a little bit of both. Whatever the case, it takes some foresight. An understanding of not only the calendar of yourself, but others. And this is where my qualm begins.

For reasons unknown to me, the College has one of the weirdest academic calendars I have ever encountered. Almost every time I tell my friends at other colleges when we start and stop our semester, their first reaction is something to the tune of: “Really? That late?” This is typically followed by condolences or sympathy of some kind, as their school gets out much earlier than ours.

My first question is: why is our schedule so behind? Our final exams consistently extend into the late teens and early 20’s of December, which puts a damper on holiday plans. They cut into the beginning of Hanukkah this year, and end pretty close to Christmas. This deficit widens significantly when you factor in potential travel time for out of state students. Not to mention, the closer to the holidays, the crazier the traffic (and the more expensive the travel).

Also, who wants to be on break in the middle of January? There is nothing to do. Most people have vacation around the holidays, whether it be from work or from school, and don’t have extensive time off into January. Essentially, the College’s break is set up so that you get to spend the least amount of time as possible with the people you don’t get to see during school. I don’t know if this is some sort of power play to ensure Tribe Pride or something (make the students hang out with other students over break, or, alternatively, make them so lonely over break that they’re begging to come back to school), but it just doesn’t make logistical sense to me. A potential upside is that while your friends and family have to worry about going back to school and jobs, your break gets to last a little longer. Until you remember this means your summer break will, once again, come way later than everyone else’s.

There’s also disadvantages to students over the summer break, too. Time with family and friends is cut short again, especially if families have multiple college-aged students who get off at different times. Also, there’s less time at home before potential internships or summer jobs start. The break starts at the end of May, around when internships start (or even after, if

internships start earlier in May). Professors collaborating with other institutions on summer research also probably have less time to work together on various projects.

All in all, our academic calendar just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I don’t like being the last to go to school and the last to come back. I just want to know why our break is scheduled like this. It doesn’t seem like it has to be. Is there a reason? Please let me know.


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