It’s time for students to get a real break

| Contributing Writer
Reilly Brady

The first month of college can be brutal: a new room, sweltering heat, a stack of syllabi, midnight rendezvous with assignments and the first set of exams all crash into students’ lives in September. The work, time and effort, however, are reimbursed with Fall Break — a time for recuperation, reunion and rest.

During long dinner conversations with my friends, it became evident that the anticipation about Fall Break was shared all throughout: We were all eager to meet family and friends and to pamper ourselves with our favorite television shows, foods and sleep after we had spent six weeks away from home. Yet it was not long until some of my friends frowned in dismay at their schedule when they noticed an exam, project or assignment due the day immediately following fall break. Oral or written exams for language classes were scheduled to take place during the week of return. The few days that were planned for late movie nights, dinners at favorite restaurants, hours of extra sleep, visiting friends and freedom crumbled into days primarily dedicated to textbooks, studying, frustration and stress. Their Fall Breaks, along with those of other students facing a similar situation, would not offer the rest and recuperation they had been promised.

Yet such dilemmas do not lie with just Fall Break; I have spoken to multiple classmates who, in disappointed phone calls, told their families not to come to visit them during this fall’s Parents Weekend because of an exam scheduled for the following Monday. Others have quizzes, homework or presentations due right after Thanksgiving Break as well.  

A break is a time dedicated to recuperation and rest. In college, it is a time for students, faculty and staff to recover mentally and physically from the tests and toils of school. Why is it, then, that so many students must sacrifice the time specifically allocated to self-recovery for their studies.

As a community of intellectual rigor and growth, it would be ironic if the students’ mental health and well-being were not the University’s priority. It is a student’s right to a proper break to recharge themselves, and the University should establish a policy upholding that right by discouraging classes to schedule assignments or exams immediately following breaks.  

I understand — a college education is meant to be challenging and intellectually stimulating. Yet there is a difference between challenging students and overwhelming them. While students may truly enjoy thinking, reading or intellectually challenging themselves in other ways for their classes, it is easy to feel stressed and powerless over the sheer difficulty or amount of work placed upon their shoulders and for their mental health to decline. How are students expected to dedicate hours to studying and assignments — while also managing extracurriculars, jobs and other commitments — for all 103 days (including the days for final exams) of the first semester, let alone for the rest of the year? How are students supposed to pursue “academic, intellectual and individual passions,” as the mission statement declares, if not provided an adequate break? 

 

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