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Give us a break! Seniors beg for a weekend off from homework

graphic by Bridget Murphy

graphic by Bridget Murphy

Bridget Murphy works on college applications and homework at the same time.

Bridget Murphy, Linganore High School

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This is my open letter to the Board of Education. I’ll send it as soon as I finish my college applications.

In mid-October, I read in The Washington Post that senior students in the Washington, D.C. region have been granted one weekend homework-free, so they can work on their college applications.

Would FCPS consider adopting this policy to give seniors one homework free weekend in September or October?

Many colleges have early action deadlines and priority deadlines of Nov. 1. Six out of eight of my colleges had that same deadline. My application to the University of South Carolina had to be submitted by Oct. 15, and that was not easy due to extracurricular activities and homework that I had to complete.

In the MoCo Student, Valerie Wang, of Richard Montgomery High School, wrote an article to acknowledge this topic as well. She said, “It is time for teachers and administration to recognize that their seniors can only handle a certain amount of work and that taking extra time to compose [college applications] should be acceptable.”

MoCo Student and The Washington Post are not the only other news sources to recognize the importance of this situation. The Chicago Tribune said that the designated homework-free weekend of Oct. 15-16 for Lyons Township High School helps students have a break to work on their academic future. Another Chicago high school, Hinsdale High School, has offered this homework-free weekend to seniors for over six years. Belmont High School in Massachusetts also offers a homework-free weekend to their seniors.

A Lancer Media poll of LHS seniors revealed that 97 percent of students struggle with meeting college application deadlines due to their homework on weekends. This should and needs to change. According to a study at the National Center of Education Statistics, it takes approximately 90 minutes to complete a college application. Naviance helps organize the different applications each student completes, and The Common Application helps lessen the number of separate applications; however, only 680 colleges across the U.S. accept The Common Application. September and October are critical months for our future — one weekend of free time is a reasonable break.

Here is what some LHS seniors had to say to Lancer Media:

“It is hard to make college applications a priority when the deadline is ‘far away,’ but the homework is due in a few days. It makes it easy to procrastinate our future.” — Katie C.

“There are just not enough hours in the day. I am taking two dual enrollment classes, physics and AP psychology and it’s really difficult to do it all.”— Joel T.

“I have had to choose what was more important, my future or my current classes in high school, and that is not easy.”— Charles Q.

“College applications are stressful enough, and if I don’t do the homework I feel that I won’t be accepted to my colleges because my grades will go down. Then I find myself behind on the actual applications.”— Grace B.

“Seniors have a very stressful first few months of the school year, as they are constantly getting new information and applications thrown at them. No homework on the weekends would remove a huge amount of stress.” — Sarah H.

I recognize that time management is an important skill and it is difficult for teachers to stop all activity for a whole weekend, but there are ways to work around that. If teachers are given a notice at the beginning of the school year, saying exactly what weekend will be designated as homework free, they will be able to properly prepare. Each high school administration should be able to decide a specific weekend that would work for their students. Different dates for school dances and celebrations would prevent every school from having the same weekend chosen.

In this chosen weekend, students and their families would also have the opportunity to attend extended college visits. While there are some drawbacks of doing this, for teachers and their classes, the amount of benefits for senior students is much greater.

I know that in college the work won’t slow down for us, even if we ask nicely, but we need to get there first. This is our time to prepare, to apply to colleges and to decide where we will start the next chapter of our lives.

Sincerely,

Bridget Murphy, a hard-working Linganore senior, who is struggling with juggling college applications, extracurricular work and homework on the weekends

Read the original column here

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