A safe and supportive environment


Smriti Balaji (’24) working during study hall.

Tiffany Lu, Senior News Editor

     Sitting in the chaotic mess of her room, surrounded by piles of textbooks and notebooks, Sumedha Jayaraman (‘24) takes a deep breath as she tries to keep up with the seemingly endless amount of homework assignments that she’s getting. 

     Jayaraman takes both AP Biology and AT Physics, which requires two of her three study halls to be replaced with lab days. The lack of time to do her work in school has caused a significant amount of stress in her life. Without study hall, she has to rely on working during lunch or other free hours of her school day to finish the remaining homework that she couldn’t finish at home. 

     Study hall has been a part of many high schools since 1910 when Charles Hubbard Judd first added it to the University of Chicago Laboratory High School library. It is a period that is set aside for students to study or finish their schoolwork. But, the benefits of study hall go beyond just academic success. It also plays a crucial role in promoting mental health and well-being among high school students. Whether students use this free period to be productive or not, it is always beneficial to have some time to destress and socialize with friends. 

     A study by the Institution of Education Sciences discovered that the rate of homework incompletion decreased after study hall was implemented in schools, dropping from 8% to 4%. Most high schoolers claim that schoolwork is their primary source of stress, and South is no different: South students spend an average of 3-4 hours on homework per day.

     “Spending several hours each night on homework and studying has become a routine for me, but it often makes me feel drained. I do it to maintain good grades and to do well academically, although it’s challenging to find a good balance between school and my personal life,” said Imani Laird (‘24). 

     Junior year is often considered a critical point in a student’s academic career. Many students begin to take AP classes, increasing their workload. They must maintain high grades while balancing a heavier course load in comparison to previous years. 

     Additionally, junior year is the start of the college admissions process. Students are faced with the pressure of standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT, on top of everything else they already have to accomplish in school. Being in junior year adds a lot of new responsibilities and stress, so study hall becomes a much needed break during this time.

     In study hall, students are provided with a suitable environment to study and be productive in. They are assigned to go to the playhouse, but they may choose to sit outside at the high tables or go to the media center if they choose to do so. With a set time and place for studying, students can develop good study habits and time management skills by learning to prioritize their academic work and manage their time more effectively. Not only does this improve their academic performance, but it also prepares them for the workload in college and later on in life.

     “Since I only have one study hall every four days, I really value the time that I get in study hall. It is a great opportunity to relax and get a head start on any homework for the day,” said Jayaraman.

     Study hall also provides a safe and supportive environment where students can seek help and support from their peers and teachers. Even when students choose not to do any work during study hall, they can use the period to destress and take some time for themselves. Students are in school for more than 7 hours every weekday. Continuous classes will eventually wear them down, so an occasional break from the stress of the school day is always appreciated, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

     “Study hall is a really useful break in the middle of the school day. I usually go to the library, so I can have a quiet place to study or relax. It’s really nice to have when I’m busy,” said Brayden Lee (‘24). 

     Study hall plays an important role in the wellbeing of students, offering a dedicated time and space for them to do their work and help alleviate stress. This provided environment allows students to be focused and productive, making it an essential part of the high school schedule. While the demands of school can be overwhelming, especially in junior year, study hall allows students to take a break and helps students find a balance between their school and personal lives.

     Study hall should be made a priority for both schools and students, as it shows evident benefits to individual students and the community as a whole.