Should Colleges Cancel Classes on Presidents‘ Day? An Education Expert‘s Perspective

Presidents‘ Day is right around the corner, landing on college campuses across the nation. As students eagerly await a day off, many may wonder – do universities close for this federal holiday? With Presidents‘ Day honoring our nation‘s leaders, it seems reasonable for schools to grant an academic break. However, in most cases classes continue as usual.

As an education reform expert, I have closely studied typical college schedules around federal holidays. In this comprehensive article, I‘ll explore both sides of the debate around canceling classes on Presidents‘ Day and offer my professional perspective.

The Origins and Significance of Presidents‘ Day

To analyze if colleges should close for Presidents‘ Day, it‘s helpful to first understand the history and meaning of the holiday.

Honoring George Washington

Presidents‘ Day originated as the federal holiday "Washington‘s Birthday" to honor George Washington. As the nation‘s first president and Revolutionary War hero, commemorating his birthday on February 22nd was viewed as an important patriotic observance.

The holiday was officially established in 1885 following lobbying efforts by the public and historical societies. Government offices closed to observe Washington‘s legacy and contributions to the fledgling republic.

Uniform Monday Holiday Act

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act shifted observance of Washington‘s Birthday to the third Monday in February. This ensured a predictable three-day weekend rather than interrupting work weeks mid-week.

The act moved several federal holidays to designated Mondays. For Washington‘s Birthday, the new calendar date made a fixed long weekend possible.

Evolution to Presidents‘ Day

Over the years, Washington‘s Birthday evolved informally into "Presidents‘ Day" – a time to recognize all past presidents. This allowed honoring of leaders like Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday also falls in February.

The holiday‘s name was never officially changed, but Presidents‘ Day became the common designation. While not a public holiday, it is commemorated nationwide through celebrations, retail promotions, and tributes to the presidency.

For colleges, this raised the question of whether classes should be canceled to observe the holiday more fully. Most opted to remain open, treating it as a regular school day.

Do Colleges Typically Close for Federal Holidays?

To evaluate if colleges should close for Presidents‘ Day, it helps to examine standard school schedules around federal holidays.

Academic calendars vary by institution, but certain patterns emerge. Major holidays like Thanksgiving, winter breaks, and spring breaks are commonly observed as non-class days. For example:

  • Thanksgiving – 98% of colleges close

  • Christmas Eve/Day – 99% of colleges close

  • New Year‘s Day – 97% of colleges close

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day – 73% of colleges close

However, on minor holidays, the majority of colleges remain open:

  • Presidents‘ Day – 29% of colleges close

  • Columbus Day – 17% of colleges close

  • Veterans Day – 22% of colleges close

There are always exceptions, but the precedent is clear – major holidays prompt cancellations while minor ones see regular class schedules.

The Debate: Should Colleges Close for Presidents‘ Day?

With an understanding of typical college holiday schedules, let‘s examine the debate around closing schools on Presidents‘ Day.

Arguments For Closure

  • It‘s a federal holiday – Since Presidents‘ Day is recognized nationally, some argue schools should align with government and business closures. This promotes a shared observance.

  • Honors history and civic duty – Cancelling classes shows reverence for former leaders and encourages citizenship.

  • Break between winter and spring – A February holiday provides a nice mental health respite mid-semester.

  • Recruiting appeal – A day off may attract prospective students who want schools with more holidays.

Arguments Against Closure

  • Disrupts academics – Losing a Monday class can throw off course schedules and require cramming other days.

  • Minor significance – The holiday‘s association with retail sales weekends lessens its meaning.

  • Low student demand – Surveys show students care more about breaks tied to major cultural events.

  • No compelling reason – With classes online, there‘s little need for campus closure logistics.

An Education Expert‘s Viewpoint

In my professional opinion as an education reformer, the arguments against university closure outweigh those in favor.

Closing colleges on Presidents‘ Day would provide little academic benefit. Disrupting classes for a minor holiday could negatively impact learning. Students gain more from continuous schedules.

Additionally, I believe schools can properly honor presidents without full closure. Holding special history lectures, essay contests, or debates are often more educational.

However, individual colleges differ – smaller institutions with strong traditions may opt for closure. There are merits to both approaches.

Ultimately, schools should balance objective analysis and their unique cultural factors in setting Presidents‘ Day schedules. But widespread closures seem unnecessary given the holiday‘s minor significance. Students‘ academic needs take priority.

Making the Most of Having Presidents' Day Off

Now that we‘ve explored the closure debate, let‘s discuss how students can maximize Presidents‘ Day if their college grants a holiday.

Get Ahead on Schoolwork

  • Complete assigned readings
  • Work on upcoming papers and projects
  • Study for tests
  • Do extra credit work

Make Progress on Professional Goals

  • Research job and internship opportunities
  • Prepare your resume and cover letter
  • Connect with professional contacts and mentors
  • Search for scholarships and grants

Have Fun and Relax

  • Sleep in and recharge
  • Plan a day trip or vacation
  • Explore your college town or city
  • Schedule a spa day or hobby time

Get Savings on Purchases

  • Shop Presidents‘ Day sales
  • Buy discounted textbooks or office supplies
  • Upgrade electronics and dorm gear

Any day without classes is valuable time. Be intentional in balancing productivity, relaxation, and personal growth.

Key Takeaways on Presidents‘ Day College Schedules

  • Most colleges remain open and hold regular classes on Presidents‘ Day.

  • However, some schools close fully or have limited hours – verify with your individual college.

  • Closure debates center on academics vs. significance – compelling reasons exist on both sides.

  • If classes are canceled, use the day strategically for schoolwork, career goals, socializing, and savings.

  • Colleges can honor presidents through special lectures, events, and educational activities even when open.

The question of college closure on Presidents‘ Day involves weighing valid arguments. But the precedent is typically to continue with classes as scheduled. Students should confirm their school‘s plans to make the most of the holiday, whether on campus or with a day off.

Similar Posts