Does School Starting Later Really Help?

Waking up was the worst part of the day. I would hit my alarm at least three times before actually getting out of my bed ready to begin another seven hour school day. Like always, the clock read 6:30 a.m- now, even being in college, that time still gives me chills. I’d often throw on a pair of yoga pants and any sweatshirt I could find in my closet. It was never a surprise to my first block teachers that I’d be strolling in a few minutes late after the loud, obnoxious bell that rang promptly at 7:21 in the morning. Every morning felt the same – get up, feel tired, complain, be late, and wait until the school day was over. However, that dreaded routine ended when New Jersey Schools began PARCC testing. PARCC testing allowed students to come in at 9:20 a.m opposed to 7:21 a.m if one did not have testing that day. Being able to start school at 9:20, allowed me to be early and actually be happy to attend class. I started to notice that my attention was more focused in class and I was more engaged in conversation with my teachers and peers. Could starting school later have a positive effect on students ability to learn?

stock-photo-tired-teenager-lying-and-sleeping-on-the-school-desk-121132150 Picture credit

According to Dian Schaffhauser, psychologists Pamela Thatcher and Serge Onyper began an experiment on Glen Falls High School to discover if moving school to a later time would benefit the students. The school changed their starting time approximatly 45 minutes later than previous start time. At first, students explained how the later start and end time allowed them to get about twenty more minutes of sleep. So, the high school began to believe that the experiment was giving positive results and Pamela Thatcher and Serge Onyper thought their experiment was working just fine. However, results changed the second time the researchers returned the school. Students explained that they began to fall back in the same routine and they were getting the same amount of sleep. The school reported that students exams and behavior in school shortly went back to the way it was before the experiment began.

I found the experiment above extremely interesting. It intrigued me how once the students got accustomed to the new schedule it went back to the way it was before the new times were put in force. I believe that since my experience with starting school later was only put in affect for six weeks, it did not change my behavior back to normal. It disappoints me how the experiment panned out because from personal experience I felt like a happier student. Perhaps that was just me!


5 thoughts on “Does School Starting Later Really Help?

  1. Benjamin R Tuohey

    This article I find very relatable, the very last thing I wanna do in the morning is wake up and go to class at 8. As soon as my alarm goes off I start thinking to myself do I really need to go to class, what will I miss if I don’t go, a million different things. I think starting later could be beneficial to students. I mean what person doesn’t like sleeping in? I feel if I were to start later it would help me focus, because I would be more rested and wouldn’t worry about feeling tired or falling asleep during class

  2. Rachel Sara Anton


    This article caught my attention because none of my classes start until 10:35 at the earliest. In high school, classes started at 7:30. So far, I’ve definitely noticed a change in my performance. I have ADD, so usually focusing (especially when having to wake up at 7:30) is not easy. However, getting extra sleep has definitely helped with my performance. This COULD be due to the confounding variable that it’s the beginning of the school year and I am more motivated to do better… I guess only time will tell! Here is an article by the National Sleep Foundation so you can only imagine their position on this. They agree with us!

  3. Jacob Alexander Loffredo

    This post could not be more accurate. Regardless of how late I have to wake up for a certain obligation I always have trouble getting up for it because I know that I could go to bed later and sleep later. A perfect example that coincides with your blog is that my roommate’s earliest class is at 12 o’clock and every single day he sleeps until 11:30. T he fact that the experiment run at the Glen Falls High School only worked for a week does not surprise me at all. The reason being is that I am the same exact way. Even though I believe A later start time to school would not make much of a difference according to later start times for school would indeed help teenagers in all aspects of their lives. I strongly disagree, teens will be teens; they are going to stay up late and sleep in, it is just what we do.

  4. Kateryna Okhrimchuk

    Hey Gulianna! As someone who’s first period class started at 7:15 in the morning her senior year of high school, trust me when I say that I feel your pain. What was even worse though, was the fact that I lived in Brooklyn so not only did I not know how to drive and had to take public transportation, but my school was also an hour away from my house. I literally had to be up at 4:50 every morning, snoozed my alarm at least 5 times before actually getting up, leaving my house by 6 and praying that the bus and train traffic wasn’t too bad that day. And the even worse part? I had calculus as my first class. I felt everything that you mentioned in your article: I felt tired, I complained, and was extremely unmotivated to do my work until at least 9 in the morning. Now, at Penn State, my earliest class starts at 11:30 AM and I couldn’t be happier about it. I now have time in the morning to do my makeup and pick out an outfit, which according to science actually makes you more productive! I found this really cool article ( ) that explain how giving yourself time to look good actually gives you instant happiness, boosts your self confidence, gets you out of a depressed state of mind, and gives others around you a positive impression of yourself. All of these things combined is honestly enough of a reason for high schools, a place where you cant choose the time you want to start, to reevaluate if their ridiculous 7:15 start times are a good idea.

  5. Katharine Marie Sayer

    This post speaks to me. Every time my alarm goes off in the morning, I’ll hit snooze and roll on bed to bed for 20 more minutes. This results in me always rushing and merely being late for my 9 ams, but it’s totally worth it (even though it realistically hurts more than helps: Last year, I used to wake up at 7 every morning and be in homeroom by 7:30. Now, the thought of waking up that early makes me cringe. If you told me a year ago today that I have an extra hour to sleep in before classes but I still refused, I wouldn’t believe you. I went into this year thinking that 9 ams would be so nice, but since I already adapted to this new routine, it seems just as bad, if not worse, than what I used to do in high school! Maybe it’s because I don’t have my mom to wake me up anymore.

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