Breaks Should Be Breaks

Thanksgiving break is approaching, a time that many students spend with family and friends. It’s in the name, yet when the time comes, the last thing it feels like is a break. On many breaks, including Fall and Spring Break, some professors seem to assign extra-long readings or more work than they would assign in a typical week. While we recognize that breaks do give students more days to work on assignments, we at The Phoenix believe that professors should be cognizant that breaks are a vital time of relaxation for students. Students need to rest for their own well-being, and breaks are vital to preventing burnout. 

Swarthmore’s demanding environment can easily become overwhelming, and students often feel compelled to make personal concessions to prioritize schoolwork. Swarthmore students spend much of the semester working hard to keep up with readings, essays, and labs in addition to work shifts and demanding extracurriculars. Many Swarthmore students feel that they have to think about their to-do list at all times, even when classes are not in session. Breaks should be a time to destress from the rigor of Swarthmore, not to continue it. It is impractical to expect students to maintain this level of rigor without breaks. Not to mention that many students work jobs over breaks and additional homework may create financial stress by taking away time that students planned to use for working. Breaks should be a time when the constant review of the mental to-do list can stop. 

Further, students who have interests outside of academics may find it difficult to fit such interests into their busy schedules at Swarthmore; thus, they rely on breaks to provide them with a creative outlet. Breaks are meant to be opportunities for students to relax and enjoy time not devoted to schoolwork, all while giving their brains a healthy dose of rest. Self-care is often not a priority on a busy Swarthmore student’s mind. But resting is self-care. 

We believe professors should not take advantage of breaks to assign extra homework. Some homework is, of course, appropriate over breaks to keep the class moving along, but professors should assign no more homework over breaks than they would over a typical weekend. Then classes can progress at a reasonable pace, but students could spend the majority of breaks relaxing without worrying about being confronted by a mountain of homework due when classes start again. If students are feeling behind in their classes, breaks are an opportunity to leisurely catch up on work to make the return to Swat less stressful. Additionally, if all professors operate on the assumption that their extra assignments are minor or that they are the only faculty giving extra assignments, work can pile up quickly across classes. Breaks can all-of-the-sudden become a week of hassle and stress instead of the restful, recharging time they are intended to be.

As Thanksgiving break approaches, we hope that professors will keep the rest and relaxation of students in mind. It is imperative that students are able to relax particularly given that stress culture at Swarthmore is already intense and demanding. A proper break is necessary not only so students can come back to the rigorous pace of school, but also just to take care of ourselves and remind ourselves we are more than just students.

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