Debate: Post-secondary schools shouldn’t condense the summer semester

Shortening the summer semester ignores the mental health crisis crushing KPU students

Art by Kristen Frier

Art by Kristen Frier

Shortening the summer semester to support students is like trying to put out a house fire with gasoline. Seeing how up to 95 per cent of post-secondary students procrastinate, and 50 per cent do so chronically, the problem isn’t the semester length, but students’ mental health and work ethic. A shorter semester would simply tighten the stranglehold students are stuck in.

Solving Procrastination found the average student loses 1.59 hours per day to procrastinating online. Procrastination is caused by depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, ADHD, and poor study habits, a study by Harvard’s medical school found. 

This problem is especially harmful for international students who struggle to juggle a work-life balance, and have recently reported to be in a mental health crisis. While they may welcome the increased workload, experts feel more work for international students is shortsighted. International students often overwork to combat inflated tuition fees, partly leading to the mental health crisis. 

Therefore, a shorter semester would eviscerate what remains of students’ mental health, and is also indicative of toxic hustle culture infiltrating academia.

Hustle culture, which glorifies and puts work at the center of life, has poisoned businesses as 77 per cent of workers experience burnout and 42 per cent quit, a study by Deloitte found. Burnt-out employees cost employers up to 34 per cent of their annual salary. This hustler mentality crushes workers and hobbles corporations, and we must not allow it to distort academia.

There is no reason to shorten the summer semester at Kwantlen Polytechnic University as the workload would suffocate the majority of students. Even with maintaining the current semester structure, the mental health pandemic still remains. The institution’s mental health programs need to be overhauled to better support student life.

The two primary mental health resources for students are KPU’s Counselling Services and the Kwantlen Student Association’s Peer Support service. These services should be increasingly promoted and supplemented as necessary to facilitate increased usage. 

According to public financial reports, KPU had over half a $1 million surplus in 2022, and a $4.2 million surplus in 2021, primarily from international student fees and government grants. With these surpluses, there could be a significant overhaul in the promotion and administration of mental health services. This would also benefit KPU, as without a thriving student body, the institution would stand to lose enrollment and future surpluses. KPU should also offer and incentivize time management seminars at the beginning of each semester to help combat procrastination habits. 

Student life and socialization are undeniably tied to students’ mental health. Student life at KPU is sorely lacking, yet seems to be improving with the return to in-person courses. Student life off the Surrey campus is limited to Gulberg Tandoor restaurant and Kwantlen pizza across the street, along with the occasional dances, festivals, and competitions hosted by the KSA or other student-led organizations. 

While the social scene is growing, it needs more support via funding and permission to use larger in-campus venues. An increase of social events on every KPU campus could lead to reduced mental health struggles and open support networks for students to form organically.

Shortening the summer semester is simply ignoring the real mental health crisis that’s crippling students at KPU. An overhaul of students’ mental health and social services is the true solution to this real problem. Until then, sorry kids, school is in for the summer.