Is winter break too long?

The thought of thirty-five work-free days off is what kept most students from going insane while they prepared for finals at the end of the Fall semester. After all of the all nighters, research papers and cafeteria food of the semester, everyone on campus could not wait to hand in their last dreaded final, pack their bags and head home.

At first, it seems impossible to be sick of having time off. The first few weeks are filled with holiday parties and festivities, reunions with friends from high school and the joy of vegetating in front of the television all day. It almost seems like the break was going by too fast. But things seem to change once the Christmas lights are taken down and the New Year’s champagne is poured. There are no longer Christmas parties to attend, daytime television begins to drive you insane and sleeping till noon begins to get old fast.

Things really turn hairy when friends from other schools begin to go back to their classes, which means more time of doing absolutely nothing and being lonely.

Of course, if there is an opportunity to work to earn money for the upcoming semester, then boredom is not really a problem. Most employers are hesitant to hire college students since they are not able to work until the last week before Christmas and are only available for a month. This leads to no income for students, which limits the activities they can participate in. By the time the last week of break comes, students find themselves anticipating getting back into the classroom, in order to have something else to stimulate them besides Lifetime movies.

Having a long winter break has more drawbacks then the potential boredom. Firstly, it takes students out of a routine for too long. College life is set to a certain pace, with daily activities, such as studying, reading large amounts of materials and retaining the information in short amounts of time. For some students, it took a while to develop some sort of study habit, in some cases, all semester. A month may not seem like a lot to be out of practice, but when there is absolutely no kind of reading or writing beside instant messages and Facebook walls, it is too long. This makes it harder for students to jump immediately into a full roster again, and going back to being slammed with research papers and textbook outlining on a daily basis.

Secondly, the long break makes it harder for resident students, especially freshmen, to readjust to dorm life. For many freshmen, it took almost a whole semester to begin to find a niche at the University, and as soon as familiarity set in, they were sent back home. Upon arriving home, it was hard settling back there, but as soon as they did, it was time to pack up again. This can lead to added stress on students to once again reacquaint themselves to campus life.

A long winter break also detracts from the summer break. Since classes do not commence until almost the end of January, spring semester does not end until May 14, the last day of finals. This prolongs the school year to mid-May. The nice weather becomes distracting and the classrooms without air conditioning turn into ovens.

Schools that go back immediately after New Year’s, have finals the last week of April and are dismissed by the first week of May. This allows students to set up employment at home for the summer, which is the prime working season for college students. By mid-May, most employers have hired enough college students for seasonal help, and it makes it harder to find a job. Yes, summer break is longer than winter break, but it is easier to be more productive in the summer. There is more time to work, to spend time with family and friends who have not been seen in months, and to get into some sort of a routine for a sufficient amount of time. It’s time for the University to consider a shorter winter break. It’s likely many students and teachers would much rather go back a few weeks early when the weather is bitter cold, than to roast in a warm classroom while their friends are sunbathing on the beach.