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UMN students reflect on University breaks

With spring break around the corner, students share their opinions on time off during the semester.
Image by Noah Liebl
While some students think spring break is early this semester, others voice wishes to have a fall break.

With spring break around the corner, many students reflect on the sufficiency of University of Minnesota’s semester breaks. 

In the fall, University students do not have a traditional break like other Minnesota colleges and have no formal time off until the four-day Thanksgiving break. Contrarily, the spring offers a weeklong spring break in early March.

Trisha Bui, a second-year University student, said spring break is a time to hang out with family and friends before upcoming exams.

“I think it’s nice to have students relax for a whole week before midterms and finals start again,” Bui said. “At least for mine, there’s going to be like finals and midterms right after, within like a week.” 

While some students have expressed concerns about spring break being too early this year, Bui said she did not think so but was surprised the school did not have President’s Day off. 

“They have good breaks,” Bui said. “A lot of schools, they don’t have a long winter break, they only have like two weeks.” 

Amelia Zaic, a first-year University student, said she heard concerns about spring break being early, but she feels it is a product of the semester moving by fast. 

“I really like spring break,” Zaic said. “The spring semester gets so difficult so I think it’s a good break for people and to get like working back at home too.”

Katherine Scheil is an English professor at the University who often teaches the same class in the fall and spring semester. She said professors and faculty have to make adjustments to their course material for each semester, especially if they choose to give midterm exams. 

“In terms of planning a course and pacing, of course, you have to think about what’s the body of material in the fall that best fits the Thanksgiving [break] to the end of the semester,” Scheil said. “That’s not so much an issue in the spring.”

Scheil added that the energy from students is different before and after breaks. She said students typically feel ready for time off before spring break while often feeling anxious after Thanksgiving break because of upcoming  exams and end-of-term assignments.

“I would just say, be aware that the energy of the class changes across the course of the semester,” Scheil said. “So again, in the fall, the energy post-Thanksgiving changes. Students are much more anxious and under stress.” 

According to Scheil, another issue the faculty faces with breaks regards family, with many faculty members having children with differently scheduled breaks. 

“There can be family issues for faculty members with spring break because if you have children in school, our spring break doesn’t necessarily align with the spring break for your children. And especially if you have young children, that can be very difficult,” Scheil said.“That’s just life but that’s kind of another issue about having a week-long break.”

Amrin Awal, a second-year University student, said she hoped spring break would be longer but likes where the break lands in March. She added another wish for time off in the fall.

“I just hope there was a fall break, honestly,” Awal said. “Because like, we don’t get any breaks for the first semester.”

Awal added all her friends have a fall break and wished the University would follow the example other schools set. 

Many state universities and colleges in Minnesota do have a fall break, including St. Cloud State and Southwest Minnesota State University, according to their academic calendars.  

Shane McCue, a first-year University student, said he enjoys spring break and where it is placed but wishes there was a weeklong break in the fall to give himself more time to spend at home. 

“The first semester, I kind of wish we’d get a full week,” McCue said. “The Thanksgiving [break], it’s just like I live in Michigan so I had to fly out on Wednesday and come back pretty soon.” 

Ben Stiyer, a second-year University student, said he prefers longer breaks over having a few sporadic days off, but he also enjoys having a routine that can be disrupted by having too much time off.

“I personally don’t really like breaks,” Stiyer said. “I think they get me out of school mode.” 

This article has been updated.

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