Spring “Break”? Not With Some Professors
Ah, Spring Break. A time to relax, to de-stress, and to recharge for classes after midterms have drained us of our livelihood. Some people go on vacation to cut loose, some go home for a little R&R, and some even enroll in a short course to catch up on credits or work on a project with their favorite professor. Whatever your plans, Spring Break is you time.
Or so you thought. Then your professor assigns a paper. And another gives extra problem sets. A third wants you to read an entire book, and a fourth wants you to make an exact replica of Michelangelo’s David at a .22 scale. Suddenly, your days of rejuvenation are long gone, and you’re stuck trying to figure out how to fit that brick of an organic chemistry textbook into your suitcase without going over the weight limit and having to pay more.
Worst of all, your workload ruins everyone else’s break too. You might go to the beach with your friends, but how much fun is it going to be when you bring your textbook as a beach read? And that certainly isn’t going to attract the cute guys playing volleyball nearby- or fit into your adorable clutch when you go to the bar at night.
If you go home, especially if you live far away from school, your family gets it even worse. My friend’s mother flat-out asked her one “break” why she was paying so much money to fly her home so she could sit in the corner with her textbooks. And truthfully, she has a point; no one is enjoying watching you sit and study all week. They’re lucky if they get to catch up with you at all before you fly back to school and go another eight weeks not speaking to them because you’re too busy with school and such to call home before they go to bed at ten. So much for family time.
The problem is that professors seem to think that “Spring Break” means you have all this free time to do extra work for them. I even know of professors who schedule tests for the day after break, or add on extra homework because students “have plenty of time to work on it.”
Okay, so maybe we DO have some time- for once. But is piling on the work during the time we’re supposed to be recharging actually going to accomplish anything (besides reducing your students into a withering puddle of stress less than a week back)? By insisting on requiring more work, professors are actually offsetting the purpose of having a break at all. Just because we have a few minutes to breathe isn’t a reason to add more to our workloads.
College students, for all the stereotypes about partying and lazing around before entering “the real world,” work hard. Really hard. We take full course loads that require not only an average of fifteen hours of classes a week, but also extra time for labs, group projects, reading, papers, practice problems, studying for exams, and much, much more. So take the class time, and assume that outside work pretty much doubles it. Then add on activities (I’m slightly insane and actively involved in about six groups and have passing affiliations with about another ten or so, but most students, even if they’re not to my extreme, do something extracurricular) and the part-time jobs held by many students.
Yup, that’s a lot.
The reason we supposedly party so much is because we need a break, a rest, something to keep us from going utterly insane, or, worse, dropping the ball and losing everything we’ve been working for. The point of having spring break is to give us some sort of rest so we can do everything we need to do; by adding more work (and, let’s face it, we all have some work to do over spring break anyway- thesis, applications, papers or projects for later in the semester, a part-time job back home, family obligations, something), the only possible scenarios are as follows:
1. The student shuts down entirely. S/he hits the breaking point, and simply becomes incapable of doing any further work. Cue the GPA fall and a possible fetal-position-style breakdown.
2. The student spends his/her break working on the extra assignments and comes back completely frazzled, stressed, and sleep-deprived, possibly with the addition of problems with his/her family/friends/significant other, who are annoyed that s/he didn’t spend any time with them. This scenario also has a high likelihood of fetal-position breakdown.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t see either of these as an acceptable option, do you, Professor “Since you’ll have time, read The Communist Manifesto and The Wealth of Nations, then write a ten-page paper comparing the ideas, oh, by the way, your midterm is the Wednesday we get back, but send all questions to your TAs because I’m taking my family to Disney World for the break”?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.