Friday is the first day of fall break for a large portion of students on campus, but, it’s less of a vacationing break and more of a week of procrastination and stress before project deadlines and finals week.
Fall break is during the last few weeks of each fall semester — lining up with Thanksgiving break. During the spring semester, spring break is just right after midterms, like most universities.
It gives students the option to destress and relax after the first half of the semester, but the fall semester doesn’t offer that. Fall semester is a stressful runaway train that doesn’t come to a screeching halt until the maximum amount of stress has been reached at the culmination of the semester.
Metaphors aside, fall semester would be a better environment for learning if the break was earlier in the semester and mirrored spring semester with a mid-semester break.
While it is slightly more difficult because there is a major holiday during the last few weeks of the semester, other universities do implement an earlier fall break that is at the front half of the week. Then, later in the semester, Thanksgiving break is the second half of the week.
Take Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. It had fall break from Oct. 7 to 10 and then has its Thanksgiving break Nov. 22 to 26. Northeastern Illinois University follows similarly, and these are just some of the public institutions in the state.
Private institutions can, and do, also follow the half-week break. Bradley University had the same earlier half-week fall break of Oct. 7 to 10 as Carbondale and Northeastern. Illinois College had a half-week fall break from Oct. 11 to 16, and Millikin University had its Oct. 12 to 15.
While getting more time to sleep and not stress over work may seem trivial, in 2014 a report entitled “Exploring the Impact of a Fall Break on Student Mental Health Outcomes” was submitted to Student Services at Brock University in Ontario. The results found that 51 percent of the 565 undergraduate students surveyed stated fall break was useful in reducing school related stress, and 59 percent of those same students stated their stress levels were much higher during midterms.
Having an earlier break will allow students to process information they are learning from courses and not overwork themselves. Spring semester always seems less stressful and jam-packed, and it’s probably due to the fact that the term is split in two, not just on paper but is chronologically — and physically — broken up.
Where fall break currently falls in the semester, there really is no break. Yes, no classes are held, but the deadlines and upcoming finals are still there when students return to campus. Students are still working on them over break and start studying to prepare for finals week.
An earlier fall break would be beneficial for students’ mental health and course performance during the fall semester. Students would be less likely to hit that end of semester funk as harshly and be able to get work done with less breakdowns.