A Late End to the Semester

A Late End to the Semester

If you have taken a second to look at the calendar for this semester, you will see that it officially ends on December 23rd, unlike last year when it ended almost a week before Christmas, on December 19th.  The second big change is that this year we have class off for Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, a day off we did not have last year.  

There are a few major factors that go into assembling the fall term calendar and impact decisions like when we get off for winter break, if we have class on Yom Kippur and if we have a Fall Break Day (a day off from classes during the Fall semester). The biggest factor is that Skidmore must meet the contact hour guidelines that are set by the NYS Department of Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Another element is that Skidmore does not have control over when Labor Day falls. The start of classes was dependent on the date of Labor Day. Skidmore could not begin classes until after Labor Day “because of the Saratoga Raceway season end date and the lack of student and faculty housing due to season home and apartment rentals right up until Labor Day,” said David DeConno from the Office of the Registrar

With a late Labor Day, the calendar ends up being quite condensed, but due to an early Labor Day this year, “we were able to go back to not holding classes on Yom Kippur” said DeConno.

This year we get out much later for winter break because of when Christmas falls. This year our semester ends on a Friday and Christmas falls on Sunday. So like some previous years, the college will be holding classes the week before Christmas. The semester end date is just a function of when the semester begins, something the Registrar is not in control of.

To help make sure students are able to leave as early as possible, DeConno said that they condensed the exam schedule to four days instead of the usual five. He also said that they worked to “schedule the exam slots with most amount of students earlier in the week, creating the opportunity for students to leave earlier if at all possible.”

Many offices help create the Academic Calendar, but the Committee on Educational Polices and Planning has the final say. In the future, it is hoped that the Fall Break Day will be added back into the calendar. Every time the calendar is under review, there are issues and decisions about off days or even a full week off for Thanksgiving.

Looking at the Calendar for next fall, it seems that they were not able to bring back Fall Break Day, nor will get a day off for Yom Kippur (because it falls on a Saturday). Although, we will get out significantly earlier than in past years.  The official end date of the Fall 2017 semester will be December 16th. 

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