Battle of the preps: the 4th prep ending or the 1st prep start?

Neel and Erik in front of Art Colosseum
Dinu Deshpande/The Campanile, Made with 4.0

[divider]Fourth-period prep provides students lowered stress levels and consistent sleep schedules – Neel Sharma[/divider]


Four-period block days are the most difficult days of the week. Taking four or even seven classes a day increases students’ stress levels and decreases their productivity and focus.

Fourth period prep solves this problem. Having a free fourth period helps students by decreasing their workload. Students who have fourth-period preps can also enjoy the afternoon and avoid the traffic rush following the end of the school day.

While some prefer first-period preps because of the flexible sleep schedule it allows, changing sleep schedules based on the day can negatively affect energy and immune systems. According to the Center of Disease Control, students with inconsistent sleep schedules have lower levels of concentration and often experience perform poorer academically.

“Adequate sleep contributes to a student’s overall health and well-being,” the CDC said. “Students should get the proper amount of sleep at night to help stay focused, improve concentration, and improve academic performance.”

Additionally, for student athletes, having class during fourth period can be challenging. During the winter, students have less than an hour of sunlight after school ends at 4:10, hindering their ability to do outdoor activities. According to a study conducted by Environ Health in 2009, cognitive abilities are correlated with seasonal depression and levels of sunlight.

“The fact that sunlight exposure was associated with cognition in depressed participants supports our hypothesis that the physiological mechanisms which give rise to seasonal depression may also be involved with sunlight’s effect on cognitive function,” Environ said.

In addition to all of these facts, having a fourth period prep helps students with their organization and time management.

Because students have already had all of their classes for the day, they are able to fully map out the most optimal time to study and do their homework. They are simply better equipped to tackle the rest of their day. Which is more productive: staying organized or waking up early to “study”?

[divider]First-period prep provides students time in the morning to study, while also improving students’ sleep schedules

– Erik Feng[/divider]




Most students are night-owls. I can count on zero hands the number of students I know who are early birds (hint: the number is zero). And this isn’t just a Paly quirk, as there is scientific evidence that adolescents are most often night owls. When given the choice, most teenagers prefer to stay up later and wake up later, which is a schedule a first-period prep complements. Because doing work in accordance with your circadian rhythm vastly improves your performance, a first-period prep makes all students better students.

Having a first-period prep allows students to improve their circadian rhythm by sleeping in. As of July 1, California public high schools, by law, cannot start earlier than 8:30 a.m. According to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, an extra hour and 30 minutes every morning could have students academically perform better due to more sleep. Not having to wake up for a first-period class would compound this effect, enhancing productivity.

Additionally, getting to school is easier with a first-period prep because there isn’t as much traffic. It also makes the commute safer, as there are less yellow-light running commuters outside of rush hour and students breaking the law to get to class on time.

First-period preps also increase the amount of study and homework time available for those who get up early. A free first-period allow students to finish up homework from the night before and because people generally perform better in the morning after having a good night’s rest, allows for more productivity than a prep at the end of the day.

Because the first-period prep happens at the same time, three times a week (always at 9 a.m.), you don’t have to change your morning routine depending on the day of the week. It’s the same for Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Clearly, first-period prep is superior to all other prep periods because it improves students’ sleep schedules, and it gives them more time to finish homework from the night before. Plus, wouldn’t you want to start your day not trying to beat traffic?

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