I’m tired. It’s halfway through the semester, and I’ve had about enough. I get irritated at the sight of the cursor in Microsoft Word. Without coffee, I’m almost unapproachable. I’ve even begun calling my mother just to say, “Hi.” Meanwhile, my friends at other universities tweet about how well-rested they are, how fall break has inspired them to tackle the rest of the semester.
While I don’t believe in the celebration of Columbus Day, I have to be grateful for it. Without it, brief as it may be, we would be expected to trudge on through the grueling 15 weeks of fall semester with Thanksgiving as our only reprieve. I arrived on campus Aug. 27, so according to my calculations it’s been seven weeks — almost two months — since I’ve woken up with nothing to do. And it will be another eight before I can enjoy that luxury again. So while the number of energy drinks available in Vittles dwindles, I am left to wonder why Georgetown does not offer a much-needed fall break to its students.
Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania give an extra day at the very least, offering no classes for both Monday and Tuesday. Princeton offers a “fall recess” which spans a week toward the end of October into early November. Yale, a seemingly visionary leader in their efforts for the preservation of students’ health, boasts an impressive Thanksgiving break, adding an extra five days to the traditional five usually allotted. But this will change soon as they introduce a five-day fall break during fall 2012, putting an end to concerns that residential college masters and mental health professionals have had concerning students’ mental health during the grueling school period. Hear, hear!
Admittedly, with so many other schools that also don’t see the necessity of a mid-semester break during the fall, it’s not hard to see why the Georgetown administration may not immediately see why the lack of one is a problem. The university is in good company. Our neighbor, The George Washington University, as well as Stanford, Johns Hopkins and number of other schools don’t offer any additional days on top of the pre-existing holiday for their students. But would a few extra days to rest, relax and recuperate really be so bad? I would love to experience the eagerness I had during the first few weeks of school when I arrived fresh-faced to class having done all of the assigned reading.
The chronic overlooking of students’ well-being may be due to a disparity in students’ perceived academic stress. Perhaps the majority of college professors and administrators are simply unaware of the actual level of duress students experience during academic periods. While some of these burnt-out feelings can be attributed to poor time management, there is an increasing emphasis on the “well-rounded” college experience, leaving some stretched too thin. The undergraduate experience is but a brief four years and too many of us (myself included) spend it passing the time as quickly as possible, waiting for the next opportunity for a full night of sleep. Shouldn’t we be able to get the most out of what little time we have here?
A fall break surely won’t guarantee eight hours of sleep per night for the rest of the semester. But it will give students the much-needed mid-semester opportunity to catch their breath and prepare themselves for the coming weeks. While misery loves company, especially on Lau 2, a few extra days of rest would certainly be something to smile about.