Short vacations strain students
Everyone needs a break. We all have friends to visit and families waiting for us at home. And, more importantly, constant work increases studennts? stress and decreases our productivity. Most universities understand this and give their students ample time to relax. In recent years, though, CMU has taken the opposite path, shortening our breaks and decreasing our much needed time for rest and relaxation.
Over the past few years, CMU has decreased the amount of time we have in our breaks in order to maximize the length of the school year. Although increasing our learning time sounds great, we need to reconsider the effect it has on the student body.
For many students, the amount of time we spend in labs or studying well exceeds the amount of time spent sitting down, reading a book, or meeting people.
It seems that in recent years many universities feel that they need to maximize the amount of work their students put in. Because of this, our breaks have shifted. Our mid-semester break, which used to be two days, has been shortened to one, and in the spring has been attached to the beginning of spring break.
Although mid-semester break doesn?t sound like it would be a huge deal, to a busy student, every day off matters. Before the 2002?2003 school year, each break was two days long. This, followed by Thanksgiving break with winter break less than a month and a half away was enough time for students to rest.
But in the 2003?2004 academic year, spring mid-semester break was shortened to one day and attached to the beginning of spring break.
In the spring, students are only typically allotted one break period, excluding Carnival, which is so close to finals week that it doesn?t make much of a difference. Our spring break is one business week long which, for most private universities, is average. But for some reason the administration chose to tack our mid-semester break onto the Friday before spring break. For the students, this is a problem.
To exacerbate the situation, students enrolled in mini classes do not get to enjoy mid-semester break, as it is the mini final exam period. In the fall semester, having no break from August to Thanksgiving aside from Labor Day at the very beginning of September is painful given the added stress and personal issues.
On top of all this, winter break has been shortened. In the 2003?2004 school year, the University administration had allotted for students to have a three-and-a-half week break from December 17 to January 11. This year, the break has been shortened to about two-and-a-half weeks, starting December 22 and ending January 10. Considering the amount of work that most Carnegie Mellon students put in, this is an unfairly short amount of time.
The administration might argue that other universities have similar practices, and that by pushing the start date of classes back ?? something that was done this year ? that they are only doing what has been proven best for the student body. If we look at similar universities such as MIT, we see that although the start date of classes is further back, our schedule in no way resembles theirs.
MIT seems to have the right idea. By breaking the semester into smaller chunks with one or two day breaks once a month, they keep students from becomming overwhelmed by work and stress. Carnegie Mellon needs to figure out a way to break their semesters up and reconsider the value of extra classes over students? mental health. Hopefully in the future we will see a change in University policy and the administration will realize that the student body will function better and more efficiently when well rested.