Hear me out: you shouldn’t take classes on Wednesdays.
I was but a wee lad of eighteen when I first saw this video, titled “Weekend Wednesday,” by CGP Grey, the enigmatic and wonderful educational YouTuber. I watched the video — heard the gospel — and, reader, the Kool-Aid was sweet. I was hooked.
Here’s how it works, as Grey describes it. The five-day work week is a disaster. It’s way too long. You’re so tired by the end that Friday is useless. The weekend doesn’t work either. The week is so long that Saturday is a day of recovery from the week, and Sunday is the only day of real freedom.
The solution: make Wednesday a weekend day, and Saturday a work day. Then the week becomes two short weeks: Monday, Tuesday, weekend Wednesday; Thursday, Friday, Saturday, weekend Sunday. You’re never more than two days from the weekend. There’s also the advantage of the off-cycle: you can do typical weekend tasks (chores, errands, excursions) while everyone else is at work.
For the last three semesters I have taken no classes on Wednesdays. I can tell you — Weekend Wednesday works. And it’s a delight.
On Wednesdays, I do my laundry — and the laundry room is empty. Last year I lived in a large suite, and I cleaned the room on Wednesdays while my suitemates were in class. In the evening, I’d finish some homework that had slipped through the cracks, and I’m ready and raring to go back to class Thursday and Friday.
Saturday becomes a workday under the Weekend Wednesday protocol and that works great, too. Princeton doesn’t offer classes on Saturdays — though I’d take them if they did — but it’s my primary homework day.
Normal two-day weekends for me often come off as half-work and half-play, which certainly makes one a dull boy. You feel like you ought to be finishing your homework, but you ought to be relaxing too. But Weekend Wednesday makes Saturday a work day — and if you work fully on Saturday, you can relax fully on Sunday (outside of the myriad of meetings for this newspaper that occur every Sunday).
This system does constrain which classes I will take: Monday–Wednesday lecture classes and Wednesday afternoon seminars are off-limits. But there are so many great classes offered every semester that this is never a serious problem. If anything it’s a helpful filter: there are always dozens of classes I want to take. Removing one day of the week helps me choose four or five.
Many of my classmates, upon hearing of my scheduling connivances, reject them out of hand because of their cherished off-day on Friday. This is reasonable — riotous Thursday nights on the Street often require a day of recovery. Also, a three day weekend solves a few of the problems indicated above. But deft craftspeople of ReCal will find that it is altogether possible to find four-class schedules void of Wednesday and Friday classes.
There’s something calming, too, about stopping your week in its tracks, and taking a day for rest and restoration. I do all my chores on Wednesdays: do my laundry in the empty laundry room, yes, and clean my room, shave, file my nails, organize the file folders on my computer, water my plants, and attend to any other tasks that evade me. It’s a day to care for my space and myself, a waystation.
Princeton requires you to pour so much of yourself into your work — often literally: you mortgage yourself to the school’s grueling academic and social calendars. Wednesday, then, is for retreating to the homestead and likewise retreating to myself. I’m focusing this semester on defending my free time and defending my personal goals. That’s as important — maybe more important — than everything that happens on the other days of the week.
Reader, lend me your ears. Don’t take Wednesday classes. Make your schedules accordingly for next semester — or better yet, rework your schedule during the add-drop period. Make a quiet place for yourself in the middle of the week. Respect your time, and enjoy that empty laundry room. I’ll see you on Thursday.
Gabriel Robare is a senior writer for the Prospect and the head Puzzles editor. He can be found doing chores on Wednesdays and can be found on other days on Twitter @GabrielRobare, or by email at email@example.com.