EDITORIAL: Falling in Love With Fall Break

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From the moment classes start, many Rowan students have a burning question on their minds — how long until Thanksgiving break?

This is because here at Rowan University, classes run on a normal schedule until the November holiday, unless a rare October blizzard decides to hit the east coast. Until the end of November, three months into the semester, there is not one break built into the academic calendar.

The Whit believes the gap between starting classes and Thanksgiving break is far too wide, and that a fall break for Rowan students would help their mental health and academic performance overall. The idea of a fall break is not an original one, as many schools across the country give their students anywhere from two days to a week off of classes in mid-October. 

Whether students use it to catch up with their class work, to have a mental health break or to simply avoid burnout, time off for college students is something that is well-deserved. 

Looking at a study conducted by Ohio State University, the rate of undergraduate burnout has risen to 71% as of April 2021.

“The survey really brought students’ continued mental health struggles to light. It is crucial that we arm students with the resilience, cognitive-behavioral skills and coping skills that we know are protective against mental health disorders,” said Bernadette Melnyk, Ph.D., who conducted the Ohio State study.

There are quite a few nearby schools that have worked this break into their academic calendars. Both Princeton University and Villanova University have a week in October dedicated to fall break, with Princeton’s occurring right after midterms.

Since midterms mark the middle of the semester and a peak in students’ academic activity, many students start to feel exhausted. A few days of rest is just what students need to recuperate mentally and physically as they make the academic stretch toward finals. 

Even students at other colleges without a fall break agree with the notion, just look at the latest editorial on Rutgers-New Brunswick’s student-run newspaper, The Targum. 

“Like other universities, the ideal fall break would be either two or three days long and would occur in mid-October,” the paper reads. 

A week off to de-stress without classes would be the dream, but there is the option of giving students two to three days. Drew College gives students a Monday and Tuesday off at the end of September, while the University of Pennsylvania has a Thursday and Friday off in October for fall recess. 

If given a similar break, Rowan students would have additional time to catch up on their work or even just sleep in when they normally couldn’t. While some may argue that this is what the weekend is for, we at The Whit counter that just because classes aren’t scheduled during these days, does not mean these are students’ “free time.”

According to a study by Georgetown University, close to 70% of students work while enrolled in college. So there are students at the university who use the weekends to work jobs to make money to afford college or go home to help their families around the house. It’s not fair to assume that Saturday and Sunday are downtimes for everyone.

This goes beyond just students though, as a fall break would help a lot of professors as well. Time off would give professors time to catch up on grading, time to spend with their families or the chance to take a long-overdue mental break. 

Overall, a fall break would give so many members of the Rowan community the much-needed time to refresh and prepare for the rest of the semester. After all, shouldn’t the university want to do all they can to help its students succeed?

For comments/questions about this story, email the.whit.rowan@gmail.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline

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