What a Dead Period/Reading Day Really Is

Ever wondered why college students stress extremely hard about finals week? I remember being in high school, seeing all of my college friends freak about finals week, while I cruised through high school finals with no more stress than a regular test. Well, the reason college kids stress a little, actually a lot more, is because finals count for a huge part of your grade in most college courses.

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In high school, you receive a healthy balance of homework, quizzes, tests and projects, but in college you can say goodbye to easy homework grades. A large percent of courses in college consist of little to no graded homework, but instead two to three large exams that make up the majority of your grade. If you struggled all semester for a B and the final exam, which makes up 30% of your grade, rolls around you can begin to understand the stress. These exams are particularly difficult for our friends in STEM courses, but luckily for me I don’t think I’ll ever take a math class in college, I am blessed.

In order to prepare for the stress of college finals, universities allow what is called a “dead period” or a “reading day” to students. In these days, the university holds no classes; instead, the time goes entirely to the students to prepare for final exams. The beauty of dead periods is that they’re completely free. You don’t have any classes to go to, and they serve as a great time to study for exams, however the time doesn’t have to exclusively go to studying -- they’re also a great time for students with more final papers than exams to finish up their writing. Dead periods aren’t all work and no play though, lots of schools host programs that boost student morale during the grueling home stretch. At my school, the student government regularly has food on campus, Dunkin in the morning, Wendy’s at night, and even service animals some afternoons!

Once you get over the stress of the whole thing, you form a bond with all your late-night library comrades and if you stay up late enough, you might even get free coffee in the morning. Dead periods definitely have their perks, but the biggest one is definitely having free time to get your studying in and your work done.