Seven forty-five p.m. looms over me like a death sentence every day of the week except for Friday and Saturday. I’m a freshman, and study hall is arguably one of the most prominent components of my daily schedule. A typical school day consists of three parts: classes, co-curricular, and study hall. However, the current study hall policy seems to diminish its very purpose, which is to increase students’ productivity.
With a large number of freshmen and new sophomores enrolling each school year, study hall seeks to ease the difficulties that arise from settling into boarding school, especially one as rigorous as Deerfield. Adjusting to Deerfield poses a variety of challenges; changes in academic, extracurricular, and social life are enough to trip up anyone. It is only natural that the administration implements systems they believe are most helpful for students to meet the high demands of the Academy.
But these good intentions are often overridden by study hall’s shortcomings. First, forcing students to sit down and work for two hours takes away the motivation to study. On days with more flexible schedules, such as Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, I am more productive because I get to work when I want to.
Study hall is a different story – not only is it difficult to remain focused the entire time, but students also resort to other activities such as watching Netflix. Students have remarked that they do not do much work during study hall; if anything, they find their own time to study and finish homework outside of the two-hour time block.
Being guilty of habitual procrastination myself, I am not blaming study hall for my failure to meet obligations. Nevertheless, we must consider if study hall should be enforced at all if it is serving as more of a guideline than a rule.
There is no foolproof or convenient way to ensure everyone is working during study hall, as some group of students will always find other time to study. Perhaps the administration can strongly encourage students to study after 7:45 p.m.
rather than requiring students to do so.
Study hall also forces underclassmen to follow a schedule that greatly restricts the activities they can participate in. Between the end of co-curriculars and 7:45 p.m. curfew, there are a little more than two hours to get things done outside of the dorm.
Everyone has different activities that they want to do at different times, ranging from photography and robotics to working out and practicing instruments. Requiring students to be in study hall after 7:45 p.m. prevents students from engaging in these activities, particularly holding meetings for student clubs and associations.
I understand that for freshmen, study hall can be an effective way to introduce good study habits. However, it seems redundant for sophomores, most of whom are already comfortable handling a heavy workload.
Given that a number of students at Deerfield have repeated a grade, sophomores will have had a year or two of high school behind them when they begin the school year. Coupled with the benefits of a more flexible schedule to accommodate various student activities and studying preferences, a change in the current policy would improve academic life significantly.
A possible solution would be to enforce study hall for fall term of sophomore year and allow students to study outside of the dorms during the winter and spring terms. This way, new sophomores would have the opportunity to become comfortable with the Deerfield workload in a structured environment, and be granted a more flexible schedule later in the year.
Time is our most valuable resource, and we must make sure we use it in the best way possible.