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Lift the college app burden: mandate homework-free weekends

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Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

By Elisa McCartin and Michelle Silver

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Four homework assignments. Three college applications. Two tests. One project.

The weekend before the Nov. 1 college deadline was hectic and maddening, as seniors juggled multiple applications on top of their normal academic workloads.

Balancing these conflicting demands presented seniors with a predicament: prioritize college applications and let grades suffer as a result; complete school assignments and speed through college applications; or dedicate moderateyet still insufficientattention toward both.

It’s unfair for students to have to make these choices; both schoolwork and college applications are necessary components of a student’s high school experience. It’s essential that students are given ample time to complete their applications, which are a milestone in any student’s academic career.

Since many seniors struggled to balance their deadlines and schoolwork for Nov. 1, Whitman administrators need to provide a homework-free break before the Jan. 1 deadline so seniors can adequately complete applications.

While seniors at Whitman bore the burden of balancing apps and school work, Watkins Mill and Poolesville enforced one homework-free weekend in October to allow students to prepare their applications without the strain of school work, the Washington Post reported. Wootton also gave seniors a homework-free weekend in September to give them time to work on applications.

Seniors applying to college have to complete many components in order to apply. For Common Application schools, students must list basic information and extracurricular activities, edit multiple drafts of their main essay and complete in-depth writing supplements. Many schools even require that prospective students write multiple supplemental essays.

Seniors also may have multiple application formats to complete—like the Coalition Application used by the University of Maryland—in addition to the Common Application. Having a break from schoolwork will ensure students have the necessary time to devote to completing all these applications, which may not have been the case otherwise.

When seniors make the choice to focus on college applications, grades often suffer as a result. Both applications and school work require adequate time. With a homework-free break, students wouldn’t have to worry about their grades suffering as they focus on applications.

Although there is no guarantee that every student will use a homework-free weekend effectively, the vast majority of students would have the incentive to devote their time to applications during a homework-free weekend in order to prevent unnecessary stress closer to the application deadlines.

Whitman needs to change its homework policy for the Jan. 1 deadlines so that students don’t have to suffer through another period of panic and anxiety.

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