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Columnist Clash: Fall or spring semester, which is better?

A debate on the optimal time to be a University student.
Image by Ava Weinreis
College provides different levels of enjoyment for each student throughout the year.

Our columnists have taken up their keyboards to finally answer the age-old question: Is the fall or spring semester superior at the University of Minnesota?

Michael’s Take: 

The aura of rejuvenation at the beginning of September has clouded your judgment. The spring semester is better than the fall semester. 

Spring semester represents life getting better and excitement building for the upcoming summer. 

The cold and snow sucks, but most of us are from the Midwest. We know how to deal with it. 

Punxsutawney Phil willing, the weather improves once we return to campus from spring break. 

Those first few weeks of nice weather make us appreciate what we lose during winter. And as the weather improves, so does student life. 

Alongside having more breaks, internship and job recruiting tend to be less stressful in the spring. If you have one secured, there is no longer a cloud hanging over your head at all times and, if you are in a good place academically, there is often less pressure to do well in the second semester. 

I do not recommend falling victim to the second-semester slump, but it can ease the mind. 

Spring has just as many on-campus activities as the fall. Spring Jam, intramural sports and bar crawls all happen throughout the semester.

Sports fan? Hockey and basketball seasons are in full swing. NFL, NHL and NBA playoffs, March Madness, The Masters and MLB Opening Day are on TV. Outside of campus, lake activities, camping, hiking, canoeing and fishing are at your fingertips again and made better by the warmer weather. 

Overall, the spring semester is less stressful, only gets better and gives you something to look forward to. Fall is the opposite in almost every way. 

Claudia’s Take:

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the perfect time at school, my mind usually goes to the beginning of the school year.

Getting to see friends again after a summer away, having fun at football games, and the fresh, hopeful feeling everyone gets as we all start a new academic year. The fall semester offers so much to students and staff in so many different ways. 

The weather, for one, is perfect. Starting the school year off with sweater weather motivates me to get out of bed every morning and be the academic weapon I convince myself I am. 

The campus is also a much livelier place when the weather’s nice. I love passing Northrop Mall and finding students throwing frisbees, having picnics or curling up under trees to read or study. 

Another wonderful facet of the fall semester is Homecoming. 

University students, staff, alumni and families get so into Homecoming that you can’t help but give into the energy. The parade and Homecoming concert, as well as all the other events at the University, are always so much fun. 

Whether it’s being outdoors, attending Gopher football games or the excitement of a fresh new start that you seek, the fall semester has it all. 

Michael’s Rebuttal:

Once the excitement of reuniting with your friends wears off after a few weeks, the barrage of tests and job and internship recruiting (often more competitive in the fall) begins.

You hopefully haven’t tanked your grades yet and, as a result, are more likely to try and keep them afloat. Putting more effort into school is a net positive, but it can come at the expense of free time, socializing, making memories and mental health. 

The lack of fall break time only adds to the pressure. Making it from syllabus week to Thanksgiving break feels like a marathon. And what awaits you after that first break? Finals studying! 

On top of being more stressful, the fall semester doesn’t have as much going on as you think. 

The parade is fun if you have a float, are six years old or are an alumnus. 

Admittedly, tailgating football games is a great time. But the game itself? There’s a reason so many people leave early to hit the bars. 

While the weather may start perfect, it only gets worse. How long before you are walking to class in boots and a jacket with seasonal depression?

Claudia’s Rebuttal: 

While the spring semester may offer excitement for summer, the feeling’s stretched so thin after just getting through the fall semester that you start to feel drained. I’m practically crawling my way through the spring semester just to be handed final papers, exams and projects to do as the sun I’ve yearned so long for taunts me. 

Sure, most of us grew up in states notorious for their harsh winters. That aspect doesn’t make waking up and battling the cold every morning to get to class any easier, especially at the beginning of the semester.

Not to mention the random snowstorms and temperature drops that hit after the weather seemed to be picking up. It’s always hard to assume when the right time is to ditch the heavy winter apparel in spring, so you end up sweating from wearing too much or freezing from wearing too little. 

Minnesota springs are essentially a stretched-out winter. Once the actual nice weather starts to appear, the semester’s practically over. Most students head back home and all you have left is a ghost town of a campus. 

Internship and job recruiting may be more competitive in the fall (if you’re a Carlson student), but they are just as stressful in the spring — especially if you’re balancing end-of-the-year projects with the little mental capacity you have left. 

What do you think?

Do you have strong feelings about semester superiority? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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