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Four day work week: Viable for college?

4 Day Work Week

Illustration by Hannah Anderson


In 2022, according to a “EuroNews” statistic, 61 companies in the United Kingdom opted into a six-month trial of a four-day work week. The results? Overwhelmingly positive. Employees reported improved mental health, less stress, and more productivity, equating to increased satisfaction with their jobs. This led me to consider how my life as a St. Olaf student might change — for better or for worse — if the administration were to remove a day from our school week.


First, let’s address the obvious pro: a four-day week means a three-day weekend. As I write this, it’s a Sunday evening and the prospect of having one more day to myself before pressing “resume” on my academic autopilot seems irresistible. I can picture it now: I’d wake up tomorrow without the interruption of an alarm and open my book instead of Google Calendar. Maybe I’d even unearth my watercolor set, optimistically purchased last spring at the Sketchy Artist but currently residing at the bottom of my least-frequented desk drawer. By the afternoon, feeling refreshed, I’d switch gears and tackle the rest of my weekend homework, now a manageable chunk after dividing the entire mass up over three days instead of two. And, best of all, I’d be in bed before 9:00 p.m., guaranteed.


But is the four-day workweek truly cut out for the college calendar? Perhaps my biggest concern about the idea is that classes would likely need to become longer in order to compensate. Though an even number of school days would favor most classes being the same length — as opposed to our current differences on Mondays versus Tuesdays — it’s important to consider the effect that longer classes every day might have on students’ overall well-being. For starters, longer classes may require more attentional effort, leading to increased exhaustion. More time in class would also leave less time for homework and rest in the afternoon and evening. Plus, how would labs be factored into the mix? Music and sports practices? Student work?


While the appeal of the three-day weekend is almost too good to pass up, cramming the same amount of content, coursework, and responsibilities into an even smaller time frame would likely feel pretty stressful. In my opinion, it just wouldn’t balance. Perhaps the three-day weekend would even begin to lose its charm. After all, wasn’t it designed to make the approaching work week feel less intimidating? 


Vera Sablak is from Concord, Mass.

Her majors are art history and biology.