Maya Angelou once said, “Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” With this quote in mind, I have always enjoyed the intermittent breaks Cornell provides its students throughout the year. With two separate breaks dividing each semester into quarters, Cornell gives its students the chance to withdraw and rewind in the midst of all the stress they deal with. Whether students decide to travel back home or stay on campus, these breaks often provide much needed stress relief for many.
The breaks we have in October and February–breaks that many of my friends back home do not have–are extremely helpful in maintaining campus sanity. Especially during prelim season, many students are filled with stress and anxiety about their high workload, in addition to the amount of extracurriculars they may have to keep up with. A couple of breaks throughout the semester allow students to take a little step back from the work, relax, and then get back to the daily grind.
Multiple breaks do have their cons. For example, many students have complained that the amount of breaks we have in addition to our extremely long winter break has resulted in a late graduation date, which can be inconvenient to seniors who may have to start their jobs soonafter. Others believe that short breaks early on in the semester do not provide any benefit for students. Professors have also addressed concern over the point in the semester at which the breaks fall, claiming that they are during an inconvenient time in regards to exams and assignments.
While I do agree with the concerns above, I also understand that breaks are very much needed on campus. Although some students may not personally feel they need a break this early on in the semester, there are many students who need this break in order to do well, both academically and personally.
Many psychologists have stressed the necessity of taking time off. Many health professionals suggest that breaks help people feel more refreshed and relaxed, boosting productivity and reducing stress–both of which college students need an abundance of. After all, if we need breaks throughout the day just to stay productive in those 24 hours, doesn’t it make sense that we should need some breaks throughout the semester to stay productive in the long term?
Cornell’s break system is great the way it is. However, there are some ways to reform the breaks so as to satisfy both sides of the argument. Whether that means shortening the winter break by a week to make the graduation date earlier, or moving October and February breaks to different dates, Cornell should make sure that its break systems remains intact. Without it, many students will be more stressed and anxious and less productive and motivated. The concerns with the breaks as they are can be addressed with tweaks to the schedule rather than removing them completely. After all, everyone on campus deserves a break sometimes.