It’s that time of the year. Projects are due, exams are coming, and everyone is exhausted from the grueling semester. Once all of this is done, students get to go home for winter break and enjoy their holidays. But not for long as, NC State seems to have a shorter winter break compared to other universities.
In case you aren’t counting down these final few days, our university’s last day for final exams is Dec. 18, and students return Jan. 6. For comparison, final exams at UNC-Chapel Hill end on Dec. 13, and classes start again on Jan. 8. In fact, every year since fall 2012, UNC-Chapel Hill has had 26 days for their break, except the 2015-16 break, when they had 31 days. Compare that to NC State, which over the same period has averaged about 22 days, with a peak at 26 days and a low at 19 days this academic year. As another column, "NC State should stop stretching out finals week," pointed out, not only is exam week longer at NC State, but students also have a shorter break. This year, it’s a whole week.
Having a shorter winter break seems like a trivial thing to fuss about, but to a student, these breaks — especially winter break — are extremely important. They occur directly in the holiday season and grant students time to see family and celebrate many religious traditions. On top of that, winter break directly follows some of the most stressful days in the entire semester. When considering students have been robbed of weeks of time with family, religion and de-stressing over the past years, the affair hardly seems trivial.
Before we go any further, there is some hope. For the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years, students will be receiving almost a full month of winter break, which is similar to what UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Charlotte have. While that’s hopeful, it’s both a change made too late and a promise for only two academic years. Considering the prior points and NC State’s dubious history of winter break lengths, there needs to be more serious, long-lasting reform.
A longer winter break could be huge for students. After a long semester and excruciating finals week, students need to relax to prepare themselves for the upcoming semester. Having shorter winter breaks than other schools simply doesn’t give students the needed time to calm down after a stressful semester.
Stress in students can lead to difficulty in focusing, inability to remember certain things and poor management. The consequences of stress in students would likely be detrimental to their academic success. While three weeks may seem like enough, it would certainly not hurt if students need an extra week to prepare themselves for the upcoming semester.
Another benefit of a longer winter break is preventing burnout. Especially towards the end of the semester, students can feel exhausted and unmotivated to do their assignments or other responsibilities, especially after the trials of exams.
Students should not feel this kind of exhaustion at the beginning of a new semester; it is the foundation for an entire set of classes, and it needs to be as strong as possible. Having that type of mindset could severely impede a student’s success in college. This is not the way to start off a new semester, and having a normal winter break could remedy this issue.
As far as the emotional argument for a longer break goes, it can clearly help students reconnect with family and friends. It’s the holidays, and it’s that time of the year where people try to spend time with one another. Since many students come from not only different parts of North Carolina, but different parts of the world, they take this opportunity to see old friends and family they haven’t seen in months.
This remains true for students who live in other states and international students. They don’t have a lot of opportunities to visit their hometowns and see the people they grew up with. Students cherish the opportunity to spend time with friends and family before they have to return back to NC State. Having a more equal break will allow students to spend more time with their loved ones, which is consistent with the holiday spirit. After all, if it’s the season of giving, NC State may as well give students the break they deserve.