Zack Kime ’22, staff writer
With the 2020 fall semester wrapping up, one thing has become clear for Dutchmen across the board: students are ready for a break.
Each year leading up to 2020, LVC has incorporated a fall break into the schedule. This allowed students to prepare for the rest of the semester, while taking some time away from their courses in order to visit family and friends off campus.
However, before students came back to campus this fall, the college announced that there would be no fall break.
“School this whole semester has felt relentless,” Nick Coyne, junior biology major, said. “Regardless of whether classes were tough or not there’s always just been something to do, I haven’t been able to take a breath.”
The bulk of this semester seems to be overwhelming for students, especially those who don’t have a strong support system in place nearby campus.
“Having no break to look forward to for months got exhausting since I do not live close to home, so it’s not like I can just pop down to my house for the weekend,” Sam Long, sophomore computer data and science major, said. “I am not angry that we had no breaks, but it certainly did not help my performance in the classroom.”
Although decreased classroom performance may have a direct relation to the lack of a fall break this year, students were adamant that the professors still did what they could. When students went fully remote, it was a familiar experience to last semester, with some new and unexpected emotions.
“LVC did their best by letting students move off campus, allowing for personal growth and protecting the physical health of those who would be present on campus,” Mason Jerden, senior political science major, said. “However, I strongly feel that when planning the administration overlooked how the pandemic and the changing academic environment would play a role on the students’ mental health by being so isolated. Although, the professors did their best to support us in this aspect.”
When their coursework got to be too much, it was comforting for students to know that their professors were ready to help.
“The lack of time off this semester had a negative impact on me in the classroom, but the reason was not due to my professors,” Long said. “In fact, I felt like they did their absolute best to relieve the stress of their students.”
The Student Success Journal conducted a study in 2019 about this exact topic, breaking down the impact of an autumn break on stress levels in undergraduate students. Their findings concluded that an autumn break reduced student stress and promoted mental well-being in a majority of their focus groups.
“A break is super helpful for letting people catch up and ideally giving people a chance to take a day or two off,” Coyne said. “Coming home I feel like, okay, I can relax, but I know school is still on.”
Meanwhile, the Student Success Journal states that some undergraduates found the break disruptive to the momentum of their semester, having higher stress levels post-break as opposed to before they left. Regardless of stress level, over time, the consistent flow of work can affect student engagement as well.
“The lack of breaks paired with the feeling of isolation has personally it made me lose a lot of my enthusiasm towards school and my major,” said Jerden. “The only thing keeping me engaged as a member of the LVC community had been athletics because it was the couple of hours a day I could break my isolation.”
Although COVID-19 has forced the administration to make tough decisions, there are still aspects of student’s mental health and stress levels which they must consider when implementing decisions like taking out a fall break.
For more information regarding the full Student Success Journal study, check out: https://search.proquest.com/openview/f3d9c29b10e79515b0f42ad4a4bd7505/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=546302