How I Spend My Reading Period

Category Student Voices


College student, Nadine
Authored on December 07, 2021


Every semester, we have a week-long reading period that falls between the last day of classes of the semester and before the start of final exams. It is intended to be a period for students to rest, reflect, and prepare for finals before the semester ends. 

Towards the end of my first semester at Harvard, I was unsure what to do during reading period. In some ways, it felt as though it was a break from work and responsibilities after a hectic semester. However, with the looming exams that were coming up, I was still thinking about working on my classes and studying for exams. With every reading period I had, I learned something new about my habits, events, and how I can make the best use of time during the week. Now that I have a few reading periods under my belt, I wanted to share what it usually looks like for me.

Ever since my first year, I decided to always take the first day of reading period off. After a long semester and usually a demanding last few weeks, I realized that a break prepares me for a successful reading period. 

Reading period is also packed with events. One of my favorites every semester is attending my blockmate’s chamber class performance. She plays the piano and takes a chamber class every semester. During reading period, they perform a concert and our blocking group goes to watch and cheer her on. Many of the dance and music groups also organize performances for the end of the semester. Over the last few years, I have been to acapella group performances, fashion and dance shows, Undergraduate Drummers shows, and more! I love to see my friends and classmates perform and share their talents. 

2 students standing in on stage in front of a piano, smiling

Chamber class performance

My blockmate and her class performing during reading period of Fall 2021

Chamber class performance
My blockmate and her class performing during reading period of Fall 2021

House Committees and some student organizations host fall formal dances for undergraduates which are very popular. It is a great opportunity to dress up and have fun with friends before leaving for a long break. This year, our Faculty Deans at Leverett House hosted a pre-formal photoshoot for students in their house which was a great way to bring our community together. 

Finally, I still make time to prepare for my final assignments and exams since my schedule without classes is more flexible. Usually, I try to discover new study spots around campus. This year, my friend and I spent a lot of our reading period at the Harvard Graduate School of Education building that’s five minutes away from our houses! During the semester, I forget how close most of the graduate schools are to the college campus and that I have access to all of them as an undergraduate which makes reading period a great time to re-discover them.

student typing on laptop in a common study area

Working with my friend

We spent the day at the Harvard Graduate School of Education library

Generally, even though the concept of reading period was a little confusing during my first year, it has become one of my favorite parts of Harvard and a chance to rest and have fun before break! 


  • Academics
  • First-Year
  • Student Activities
  • Student Life