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The Blue & Gray Press | December 13, 2018

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Students deserve a week-long Thanksgiving break

Students deserve a week-long Thanksgiving break

By MARIE ROPER

Staff Writer

Finals are quickly approaching. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, students are depending on the break to relax before exams and final projects, but the break isn’t long enough. With a shortage of days off, travel, and mental health issues, UMW students deserve a week-long Thanksgiving break.

During the fall semester, students are only given 6 days off- excluding Saturdays and Sundays, which are always “off” for the majority of students. Two of those days include Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in several ways. There are many students who celebrate two or three Thanksgivings, depending on their family situations. Those who live near UMW, or within Virginia, might not have a problem with the break starting on the 21st, however there are many out-of-state students who struggle to work with the time constraint.

According to the UMW Fast Facts page, there are students from about 34 states, and 38 from foreign countries. If an out-of-state student decides to go home for the holidays, they may have to spend several days of break to travel, which isn’t much of a break at all.

Other universities provide their students strategic breaks to balance out the semester. The University of Notre Dame has a midterm break in October that allows students a week off right after midterms. This is a great system where students can be rewarded for their hard work thus far in the semester, and can use that time to begin final projects, or to relax and regroup.

Students would undoubtedly benefit from the extra days off. A research study, Educational Leadership, evaluated year-round education and found that  “having more frequent breaks improves academic achievement amongst students.” Many college students have part time jobs, play sports, volunteer and are members of various clubs. These responsibilities come with a number of expectations, and balancing the workload only increases student stress. While the weekend should be used for relaxation, many students are left spending their weekend time catching up on assignments.

The increased work ethic from time off is mostly because students have little time to practice proper self-care routines, specifically in relation to mental health and stress.
40 million U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder and 75 percent of them experience their first episode of anxiety by the age of 22. According to the American Psychological Association, 61 percent of college students who seek counseling report anxiety, 45 percent report stress and 49 percent report depression.

These numbers are concerning, and prove that time off is vital for student health. Offering less than a week of days off throughout the semester is not enough time for students to regain confidence and motivation in themselves, and in their schoolwork. Relying on Thanksgiving break as the major time to relax is unfair as well, as it should be acknowledged that holidays are not cheerful, or relaxing, for every student and their families.

During the fall semester at UMW, we are not given enough time during Thanksgiving break, or even fall break, to take advantage of the given time off. The additional days off would allow students to return home to spend time to spend with their families, to catch up on classes and to care for their physical or mental health. UMW needs to reevaluate its academic schedule, and should strongly consider extending Thanksgiving break to an entire week.

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