By Minqi Kong
College life includes intellectual development, socializing, and fun. It also includes midterms, research papers and other stressful projects. Built-in vacation days like our fall break are a time for students to recuperate, to regulate a busy period of schooling, and to relax. However, many students say that too much homework is piled on during these breaks and takes away the time that they should be resting. Break is the time that students can actually relax, so we want professors to know that we need our break, instead of assigning overwhelming assignments. Based on the data from the American College Health Association Fall 2018 Undergraduate Reference Group Data, it shows that overall 69.6% of students felt depression and anxiety from college or university. No homework or light will be better for students’ mental health.
Breaks and holidays are essential times when people can be freed from the stresses of work and built up anxiety of studying since the beginning of the school year. It’s for relaxation, it’s for fun, it’s not for using all the vacation time to write all the homework. Willow Schaefer ‘24 said she was assigned a lot of homeworks during the Fall Break. “For one class, I had to write an essay and also had to read like 70 pages, and that was for one class. And for another class, I had to do like it wasn’t a lot of work for say, but it was like really tedious work. So, I had to do like, I think 30 something questions out of textbooks, but it’s like forever, because it’s tedious,” Schaefer said. “It took me the entire weekend to finish it. Because we have Thursday and Friday and I spent Saturday and Sunday all just doing homework for these classes.”
Schaefer also said many of her professors do not put all of the assignments on the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. This can make it hard for students to plan ahead. “Most of my professors don’t put specific works on the syllabus. They have what we are going to do on the syllabus, but they don’t have the specific assignments, so we can’t predict what assignments we’re going to get at what time,” Schaefer said. Professors should clearly state on their syllabus if there are any assignments that need to be turned in, or prepared and completed, around the holidays. This would decrease stress for students.
Jenna Walker, ’24 echoed Schaefer’s concerns. “If I use Thursday as a break and I had to spend all of Sunday and some of Saturday to catch up on the work that I missed. Because I use my break as a break. So I technically didn’t really get a break. So, I only have two days off which is a normal weekend,” Walker said. “I personally think that there should be no homework during the break at all, like professors should not be allowed to assign homework over any sort of break.”
Jeffery Trumbower, the vice president for academic affairs said there is no stated policy for professors assigning work that is due or just after a school break, like the fall break we just had and the coming Thanksgiving break. “Professors can give an exam or make things due just after a break if they want. If a student doesn’t want to do school work during the break, then they would need to plan ahead to get the project done or study before the break begins,” Trumbower said.
Tim Mackin, associate dean of the college, is aware of student’s concerns and anxiety. It’s hard for schools to adjust the assignments from different classes. “We should always be listening to students’ concerns. It’s always a balance between all the material you need to get done for a particular class to prepare for the next class. The nice thing is after this semester there are a lot of breaks over the summer, so I think that’s one way people look at it. There are a lot of breaks built into the semester. But, I guess that we should always be listening to students who are worried about those things.” Mackin said.
Students need a full break to adjust to the stress and fatigue they have experienced since the beginning of the school year. The purpose of giving students a break from school is to give all students a mandatory rest time for working so hard for so long. This vacation is what all students deserve, and it defeats the purpose of a vacation if it is filled with a lot of homework and takes the same amount of time or more than usual to complete.
The Thanksgiving break is coming, professors should reconsider the assignments they will be going to assign for students and allow students the opportunity to fully rest and recuperate before final exams.