How CSU could create a better break

Zara DeGroot

Zara DeGroot
Zara DeGroot

Thanksgiving break is right around the corner and for some it could not come sooner. The anticipation of a week long hiatus after three months of continual studying and coffee consumption is universal among college students. That is, for those of us at universities without a fall break.

Schools such as the University of Michigan and New York University, to name a few, are graciously given a few days off in October during the middle of the semester. Often times called “study breaks” (but is it really used for studying?), these mid-semester recesses provide students with time to rest, relax and ease their minds before tackling the second half of the semester. With a few days off in October, these universities have shorter Thanksgiving breaks.

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Colorado State is one of the universities that does not offer a break in October and the “fall break” that we have merges with the week long Thanksgiving break at the end of November. Having two breaks near the end of the semester is counterproductive. We need an a short interlude before week 13 of the semester.

Most of us are burnt out and our retention levels have plummeted by the time Thanksgiving break comes around. Once we return from the national holiday, it will be crunch time with only two weeks to raise our poorest grades and study relentlessly before finals week. I am not trying to say Thanksgiving break isn’t enough for us. I know I will definitely be giving my thanks for a week without classes at the dinner table on 27th. However, a long break toward the end of the semester is becoming impractical.

According to an article from the University of Southern California, 19 out of the top 25 universities in the nation use the semester system, and of those 19, 10 schools have a two-day or more break during the fall semester and 15 have a one-day or more break.

The academic calendar at Colorado State has been the same for decades, but we are realizing we are running out of steam early on in the semester. Including a fall break toward the middle of the semester would help this problem by providing respite during the height of the semester and encouraging better mental health among the student body. A few days off probably won’t cure the stress-induced ulcers from the school week and sooth all our woes, but a brief pause in school work would allow students to catch up with the school year, screw their heads back on straight and refuel for the rest of the semester.

An article from the Collegiate Times, a student-run paper at Virginia Tech, reiterates the importance of scattered breaks throughout the school year.

“For those students who start the year out with a lot of work, stress, responsibilities, etc., a weeklong fall break provides a great way to play catch up, or just pause and lower their stress levels so that they attack the next several work weeks in a better state of mind. For those students who have not yet reached their string of hell weeks, then this allows time to work ahead to better prepare them for the line of fire.”

College students want to do well  that is why we are here. But without pausing to refocus, we won’t produce our best work. College is a time to work hard, but hard work without time to rest is not beneficial. A short fall break could be attainable for Colorado State. At the expense of a shorter Thanksgiving break, including a fall break into the curriculum would not shorten the number of teaching days. The next time you find yourself sobbing on the kitchen floor nursing a cup of Emergen-C after enduring six consecutive weeks of midterms, picture having a long weekend in October to relax and unwind before the semester continues.

Collegian Columnist Zara DeGroot can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Zaradegroot.