Algonquin’s Break Week has just come to an end, but for many, it was not much of a break at all.
The idea of giving students a pause during their studies to relax, socialize and take some time off is, in theory, a good one.
However, the week away is sandwiched between a plethora of assignments, papers and midterms on either side.
For those of you who came back to campus with a mountain of work awaiting you right away, it may have been hard to relax during the break.
So why not start the work early during the week away so it’s done?
That creates a paradoxical situation where your break is no longer a break. It becomes a time to catch up on a large workload. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
If you take your scheduled “break” and don’t do any work as the school intends, you come back to a pile of unfinished work with no time to complete it.
If you don’t take the break and do school work instead, then the entire point of having a week away is completely lost. A break is supposed to be a chance to stop, take a moment and recuperate so you can continue refreshed.
It’s even worse for those who must work to live, whether it’s full-time or part-time, while being a student. Employers almost always demand to know when a student isn’t in school so they can be assigned more shifts and work. Students who already work over 20 hours a week during the term are now in possession of a schedule that can go upwards of 40 hours a week, and then you combine this with the façade of a break and you’ve ended up with a busier schedule.
Post-secondary schools always put a large amount of emphasis on time management through workshops or word of mouth. To some degree, this is fair. We can all make an effort to manage our time better.
But you can only manage the large workload you’ve been given to a certain degree.
The expectation of having enough time to complete multiple large-scale assignments in upwards of eight courses while having to work to pay for bills and food is not a realistic one. That isn’t even considering that human beings biologically need time to rest and socialize.
This guise of giving students time to rest and recover isn’t a very good one. It’s almost insulting.
We’re not saying the break should be abolished – it’s better than nothing. But if the college truly wanted to help lessen students stress by giving them an actual break, it would require that all school assignments be due before the start of the break. It would also remind students that no work is to be done during the break. Midterms would strictly be scheduled before the break.
These changes would allow students time to not only catch up on work as opposed to spending what was supposed to be their break doing it, but also allow them to have an actual opportunity to focus on their physical, social, and emotional health for a change.
We don’t want to seem ungrateful. But we don’t think it’s too much to ask for an opportunity to live our lives just a little.