Fall break should be fundamental

Illustration by Christian Ayala

Spring break allows time for students to catch up on sleep, get ahead in classes and escape the stress of college life.

Some students visit family while others vacation with friends. Faculty and staff also benefit from this week-long break by grading assignments and spending more time with loved ones. Spring break is essential for students to end the semester on a strong note.

Our university lacks any form of week-long break during the fall semester. In fact, NAU’s Thanksgiving break lasts only two days. In comparison, UA’s Thanksgiving break begins the day prior to Thanksgiving and ends Dec. 1. ASU students enjoy a week-long fall break in addition to Thanksgiving break, according to the academic calendars of each university.

Other universities are incorporating breaks into their fall semester calendars. In 2018, the University of Regina, a school in Canada, announced the addition of a short fall break. According to the university, this change was in response to student and faculty feedback. The administration also believed that the break would help students’ mental health and alleviate stress.

The fall break debate has been ongoing at universities over the years. In a Washington Post article, American University’s Registrar Doug McKenna spoke on the benefits of fall break for a college population. McKenna’s reasoning is the break allows students to relax after midterms so they can return focused and ready for finals. Both American University and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. implemented longer fall breaks, according to the Post article.

According to Psychology Today, school and work vacations serve as mental health breaks. They present the ability to boost happiness and optimism.

These mental health breaks are extremely important for college students. The college environment is particularly stress-inducing. An article published by Harvard Medical School reported that over 20% of students experienced six or more stressful life events within the span of a year.

NAU should follow the lead of other universities and give students an additional break during the fall semester. I believe this would be best implemented by making Thanksgiving break a week-long break rather than just two days.

Most students have trouble finding long-distance transportation the day before a major holiday. Every year, some students are forced to spend the holiday on campus due to travel complications or scheduling conflicts.

A Wednesday afternoon class might even result in a missed flight if a professor has a strict attendance policy or assigns an exam that day.

Additionally, many students take the week off regardless to accommodate travel plans. Others leave a day or two before Thanksgiving break starts.

Most of my professors cancel classes that would have been held the day before break. If a class is not canceled, attendance is usually cut in half as most students are already out of town or trying to catch a flight on time.

With this in mind, I do not understand why NAU does not extend Thanksgiving break. Professors often take it upon themselves to cancel classes anyway and students do not show up. The university is choosing to stay open with barely anyone on campus.

I believe that an extended Thanksgiving break could result in better performance on final exams. We go into finals week with the stress of an entire semester built up. The spring semester does not carry the same heavy stress as we can look forward to a week-long break.

I perform better on spring semester finals. I feel like this is partly because spring break allows me to catch up on classes and de-stress before the end of semester chaos.

NAU students, staff and faculty would greatly benefit from a Thanksgiving break extension. We need this break during the fall semester to relax and prepare for finals.

Thanksgiving is a holiday intended to be enjoyed with family and loved ones. Students should not have to miss out on family traditions because the university refuses to accommodate travel time.