By: Ahmad Hasan and Munema Zahid
“And here I was thinking the weekend might be a bit chill,” said Danish Ali Azhar ‘24 when he realised he had to read sixty pages for next English class.
With constant assignments, quizzes, and essays, many students claim the overwhelming workload this semester is heavily affecting their downtime, especially on the weekends which were previously reserved for personal activities. Taking time out for hobbies or to socialise with family or friends provides a much-needed break from the onslaught of academia, and the seeming absence of this has led to significant consequences.
As classes moved online, class participation (CP) became written and assignments became more frequent, replacing quizzes. Some classes became asynchronous, and students believe that all these factors have contributed to the changing burden according to a survey conducted by The Post. 89.5% of the 86 students surveyed said that the coursework has become excessive, while 87.8% agree that it takes up their weekends without allowing them a break. One of the anonymous respondents says, “There’s too much to do. And the professors still expect the same results as an in person semester, [pretending] as if it’s just another minor inconvenience like a road jam.” Many others specify that they don’t get any time off to go to the gym or spend time with family.
You’re reading on your computer, you’re doing assignments on your computer, and for a lot of us our source of entertainment is also our computer, says Shah ‘21.
This experience may vary across the four schools. From SDSB, Abdur Rehman ‘23 says that he can barely manage the workload even though he’s taking the same number of credit hours right now as he did in the last offline semester because of more graded components, higher mean scores and unaccommodating instructors.
Muhammad Ibrahim Hameed ‘24, a SAHSOL sophomore, says, “I almost always have something due by Monday morning or Sunday night. I also spend a decent chunk of time working on whatever assignment I have due the next week because I know I won’t have time to do it during the weekdays because of the workload and the readings.”
On the other hand, Mashael Shah ‘21 thinks HSS professors have been more understanding compared to what she’s heard about from other schools. Although she’s gotten used to the extensive readings, the increased screen time still results in backaches and strained eyes. “You’re reading on your computer, you’re doing assignments on your computer, and for a lot of us our source of entertainment is also our computer,” she says.
Sheharyar Khalid ‘24 believes the academic burden at SSE is immense, even more so online. Though the learning experience is better in-person, he says it can get hindered by having to be at campus from 8 AM till 6 PM. He adds, “I have weekly quizzes in two courses and two assignments every week, so the weekend is practically non-existent.”
It seems like students generally agree on the diminishing semblance of a weekend and little personal time this semester. Haphazard class schedules, society meetings, and other responsibilities combine to make students feel like they’re working continuously, as Rehman ‘24 puts it: “Every day is a Monday for me.” Shah ‘21, a hostelite, compares this experience to her junior year. Though it’s the toughest year, she says it was made easier by always being physically surrounded by other students also swamped with work. This sense of community was immensely beneficial for her stress levels and perceived workload. “It felt like we had more of a weekend when we were at LUMS,” she says. “Now you’re at home and you can’t really escape work, and it does kind of take over your weekend.”
The university administration, however, has a different perspective. The Student Guide for an Online Fall sent out by the Office of Academic Advising advises students to, “Fix some time for your work or preparation of classes on weekends.” It also supports one “technology-free” day on the weekend. However, many students feel that this is out-of-touch with their reality. Maira Riaz ‘24 says, “I’m barely able to complete all [my assignments and quizzes] in time, while balancing my studies and society work. Even when I intend on revising for a course over the weekend, I can’t, let alone take out time to sustain a social life.”
The short-lived reopening of campus may have helped lift morale and alleviate stress for those situated in Lahore, but with finals season rolling around, the workload is continuing to increase. One thing seems likely: that weekends won’t go back to what they were anytime soon.