MOUNT VERNON — While many college students enjoyed a day off from school Monday, students at Cornell College in Mount Vernon headed off to their first day of classes.
Though the private college with a student body of just under 1,200 does not intentionally begin the school year on Labor Day each fall, administrators say starting on the holiday is essential.
John Harp, vice president for student affairs at Cornell College, said that because students only take one class at a time — which lasts most of the school day, and spans for three and a half weeks — missing one day of class could throw the system off. The block schedule that began Monday will conclude on Sept. 26, he added.
“If we were to miss one class day that’s like missing a week of class,” Harp said.
Harp said this type of scheduling allows students to concentrate on each course in more detail.
“What we see is that the breadth of a particular subject might be different than what they would expect on a semester plan,” Harp said. “but the depth is much greater since they can remain focused on one topic, and not change gears from a science class to an economics class all in the same day three times a week.”
Harp said Cornell’s President’s Council and the Student Senate traditionally hands out granola bars to students on the first day of classes each fall, followed by hot chocolate on the first day of classes each spring to welcome students back to campus.
Cornell students didn’t seem to mind missing out on the three-day weekend.
“I think it is an issue that is seen as really deviant by outside schools but since were a private school they don’t have to abide by anything,” said Alli Turrell, a junior sociology major. “And because of the way our schedule is we have to make up for all of the days that we miss so I don’t mind it. We joke about it, but no one is really offended that we have classes today, I would say.”
Jordan Simpson, a senior majoring in economics and business at Cornell, said not having school on the holiday would likely mean the day would need to be made up during a block break — which is a three day break students get between each class they take.
Harp said this year’s incoming class of about 345 students represents 36 states and 14 foreign countries. The top five states represented in that group are Illinois, Iowa, California, Colorado and Minnesota.