The middle of October for college students signifies the halfway mark of the fall semester. For the most part, students have adjusted into routines and stuck with them.
Having created some form of a balancing trapeze act between school, jobs, and extracurricular obligations, it can be difficult for us to factor in considerations of our well-being. We often forget what it’s like to have a day to ourselves, where we may clear our minds or participate in something that brings us joy. The accumulation of midterms and more in-depth assignments at this point in the school year does not aid in those respects either.
The main reason I raise these concerns is that I believe a solution to alleviating some of these stresses exists: implementing a fall break. As I see friends return home during some point in the month to enjoy long weekends away from school, I can’t help but to question why it is that Akron has yet to put this type of break into effect. Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Dayton, and Miami University are all institutions within our state that participate in these types of recesses. Even our rival, Kent State University, at the very least permits Veterans Day in November as a designated day off classes. What could possibly be the great opposition to a short break in the middle of the semester?
If it is the loss of two academic days, I counter that with simply fixing the additional days into some other point in the school year. A simple Thursday-Friday or Monday-Tuesday break could easily be reworked into the calendar. Starting the semester one day early, ending the semester one day late, or even tacking on a day into the spring semester are all viable options. I hardly believe that students would be opposed to any of these alternatives when presented with the opportunity for a mid-semester break.
Speaking of students, it is important to consider the many benefits that a fall break would have on us. Not only would we have the time to do the things we really enjoy for a change, but we would also have the opportunity to plan ahead in our academic careers and beyond. The chance for students to search and apply for upcoming internships, gain additional preparation time for professional entrance exams such as the LSAT, MCAT, or GRE, or simply readjust their goals for the semester are all instances that possibly would not exist without a break. The confidence that would arise from this planning would no doubt carry over throughout the rest of the semester. Returning to classes with a refreshed sense of personal health and a recharged sense of purpose would certainly lead to high levels of student success.
The creation of a fall break would not only benefit students, either. Professors and University staff exercise great effort each semester to make courses and services as efficient as possible. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which University personnel would oppose an opportunity to solidify their semester teaching plans and goals, or even spend time with their own families. A break would allow them to do both, as well as resume classes with a reinvigorated passion to effectively conclude the remaining semester.
After considering the many benefits of a University-wide fall break, I can only hope that some sort of positive action will be spurred among students and staff. Petitioning student government and other resourceful student-led groups to advocate for a break may be the first step toward achieving this change. Although I understand that the implementation of this type of break would require additional planning, I believe it is something far too critical to the success of students, and by extension, the University as a whole.
As the adage goes, “there are only so many hours in a day,” and who knows that better than anyone committed to a life in education. The weekends just aren’t enough to sustain the focus and high-quality achievement of University members from the start of classes until Thanksgiving break, 13 weeks later. Even by starting slow, possibly by designating just a single Friday in October as a day off, we may begin to see a promising difference in the attitudes and drive of those around us. Success and innovation are nourished by passion, and sometimes the smallest bit of relief can spur those qualities like nothing else.