Give us a break—at least, one longer than three days

As we all return to the hustle and bustle of our academic careers following Fall Break, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: why did that feel so short? The answer is simple. Our Fall Break is exceptionally short compared to those of other universities.

Fall Break is a time to catch up on sleep, catch up with family and mentally recharge until Thanksgiving Break. With only one day off, Washington University gives students little choice but to either stay on campus or spend enormous amounts of money to go home for two days. That’s not to mention that many students have little class, if any, on Friday anyway. Giving students Monday rather than Friday off would allow for a longer break for more students while still constraining the official break to three days.

Another alternative to the one-day Fall Break would be to trade our one Friday off for the two days (Monday and Tuesday) before Thanksgiving. This would allow students to have a single nine-day break rather than a three-day and five-day break. Many students plan to skip classes on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving anyway.

If most people are staying on campus over Fall Break anyway, the Friday off does not come close to a week off for Thanksgiving. Especially for students who live far away, the extra travel time would allow for more time with family—which, after all, is the main point of Thanksgiving for homesick college students. This would also benefit students financially as the cost of airplane tickets on Fridays is exponentially less than that on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

While the mid-semester timing is exactly when we need a break the most, the fact that Fall Break falls right before Parents’ Weekend creates more problems. One of two things is likely to happen: either students will not go home over Fall Break because their parents are planning on flying in the next weekend, or parents will not come in for Parents’ Weekend because they just saw their students over the previous weekend. The cost of flying or driving two weekends in a row is too much for many families to justify.

The bottom line is that the current Fall Break is simply too short. From a purely financial standpoint, very few people can afford or are willing to spend the amount of money it takes to go home for such a short period of time; from the students’ perspective, an extra day would be a lot more relaxing, which is what a break should be all about. By giving two more days of Thanksgiving break instead of one day of Fall Break, more students would be given the ability to enjoy all the benefits of a break.

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