Talia Balakirsky: Some schools have eliminated 8 a.m. classes, but GW needs them

Media Credit: Cartoon by Lauren Roll

At some universities, there are no 8 a.m. classes. While it may sound nice to sleep in, early classes at GW aren’t going anywhere – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. College students are often quick to discredit taking an 8 a.m. class because it’s a pain to get up so early, but taking advantage of these early classes can turn out to be extremely rewarding.

High schools across the country have begun to move toward later start times in recent years. In February alone, at least three school districts have approved the switch. The idea is that starting later will allow students to be more successful in their classes, both through their participation and in their performance, and will benefit students’ overall health.

During my senior year of high school, however, officials decided to start the school day 30 minutes earlier. Although I sometimes complained about having to wake up 30 minutes earlier, those extra 30 minutes during the school day gave me more opportunities to meet with teachers and have all of my questions answered.

And some universities have also started to transition away from early classes. Lake Superior State University announced this month that it would eliminate its earliest classes because officials said later start times would give students more time to have meetings with advisers or student organizations. But before students get any ideas about eliminating 8 a.m. classes at GW, we should consider how essential those classes are to meeting the demands of internships and extracurricular activities.

At GW, many students have internships during the semester, which limits their time to take classes during the day. The unofficial dress code around campus is usually a variety of suits and pencil skirts paired with backpacks, and students are seen running between classes and their internship. And if you’re like me – taking a full course load while interning 20 hours a week and being involved in various organizations – early classes are the best way to go.

Although my classes start at 9:35 a.m. this year, GW’s ability to offer a wide array of courses isn’t something I’ve forgotten. As a freshman, I remember sitting in my first college class – an 8 a.m. – and being in complete awe while listening to upperclassmen talk about their internships at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

Taking 8 a.m. classes isn’t just helpful for those who have jobs or internships – it also holds students accountable. Without a doubt, getting up for a very early class, especially in the winter, is difficult. But early mornings will become the norm in only a few short years (or next year for seniors) when we join the working world. If you’re looking to get a head start on adapting to what the real world will be like, taking an 8 a.m. may be a helpful choice.

Although I sometimes wish I could sleep in until noon or even just until 9 a.m., I have found that getting up to go to that early class or hop on the Metro to Capitol Hill is preparing me for the real world, where every morning is likely an early morning. I’ve also found that getting up earlier has allowed me to be more productive, and having less time every day to devote to school work has caused me to plan ahead and determine what I need to prioritize for each week.

Some students may argue that 8 a.m. classes are something to avoid, either because it’s too early for them to focus and be productive or because they just won’t be able to wake up on time to get to class. But for those who are highly involved on campus and also hold an internship, taking advantage of these early classes is essential. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to balance my internship and my classes.

For some, early morning classes are simply not a consideration, and that’s OK. But for those who have extremely hectic schedules where every minute in the day counts, these early classes can be helpful in making the most of the day’s time.

Talia Balakirsky, a sophomore double-majoring in journalism and political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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