Taking Fridays off won’t kill you

Owen Peterson, Opinion Editor

Not having any classes on Fridays is not only one of college’s essential humblebrags, but apparently also a one-way ticket to “a life of retail.”

Well, that’s according to an anonymous blog post from 2014 I read earlier this week, anyway.

Why I’m giving any credence to an anonymous blog post is beyond anyone, but I do think that the sentiment (whether made in jest or not), does reflect a genuine problem in society: the growing emphasis of productivity culture.

Productivity culture, or toxic productivity, refers to the growing tendency among students to feel guilty about not doing more work, which creates an unhealthy obsession with being “productive.”

Most of the more serious counter-arguments against not taking Friday classes follow this train of thought, focusing on how it will make you less productive, cultivate laziness and render you ill-prepared for the five-day workweek you will encounter when you leave college.

Advance-Titan photo
Students feeling guilty for taking time for themselves can lead to overworking and burnout.

These points, while not necessarily incorrect in a vacuum, play into that toxic productivity mindset and show little regard for mental health consequences. This toxic relationship with productivity could help explain the high rates of anxiety and depression, lack of sleep and poor dieting among students.

The problem here is not with being productive, but with the perception of productivity. Instead of promoting healthy goals and benchmarks, productivity culture promotes valuing achievements such as GPA over intrinsic value of education and creates a cycle where “good” is never enough.

You can hear this in effect whenever you overhear another student bragging about how little sleep they got because they were studying for an exam or finishing a paper.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to go full anti-productivity and anti-work and join some kind of proletarian uprising. I’m just simply positing that the blatant mental health crisis among students could use some attention (Generation Z was the most anxious generation in 2019, with 54% reporting feeling overwhelmed, according to the Wall Street Journal).

Either way, I maintain that there are more than enough benefits to having Fridays off of school to justify the choice.

Firstly, having an open day in your schedule can give you more time to do homework. In my own experience with a four-day school week last semester, just having that one extra day allowed me to be more organized and on top of my homework than I had ever been.

Of course, this benefit requires one to exercise some level of self-discipline and motivate themself more than they would have to in a traditional five-day week. Still, I’m sure if I was able to do it (as I type this mere hours before deadline), anyone can.

On the other hand, having Fridays off can give you some much-needed time to do absolutely nothing. According to a study done at Ohio State University, 71% of students reported feeling burnout in 2021. Burnout is still a very real thing among college students, so a bit of free time can help to alleviate academic stress.

That being said, it’s only fair to stress that having an abundance of free time does not necessitate better well-being, but, just like productivity, produces the best effect when a healthy balance is reached.

While too little leisure time may leave one stressed about not having time to enjoy anything, having too much leisure time may lead to stress about not being productive enough, according to research done by professors at the University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Los Angeles in 2021. Again, a Friday off is just as useful as you make it.

On a slightly different note, having no classes on Fridays can give students time to work or intern. For some students, having more time to earn money can be more beneficial, or even necessary, in dealing with the perpetually-rising costs associated with college living.

I believe taking Fridays off gives you a better chance to find the balance between getting stuff done and taking care of yourself. While finding that balance will take some work, it may help to alleviate the abundance of stress that comes with college and help to build healthy habits. So as registration continues at UW Oshkosh, make sure to consider the pros and cons, especially regarding mental health, of taking Friday classes.