Some students coasting, others ‘crumbling’ under workload after spring break moved to April

Amid the drudgery of class assignments, jobs and internships, work-weary students are struggling to juggle their commitments without the relief of a regularly scheduled spring break. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

The rush of the semester is catching up to many students, and without a spring break in sight, some, including freshman chemistry major Brandon Sauval, are desperate to find the motivation to keep going while avoiding a burnout.

“I’m feeling extremely mentally and physically drained. At first, the workload didn’t seem so bad for maybe the first three weeks, and next thing I know a switch flips and I’m drowning,” Sauval said.

“While I am grateful we’re getting a spring break at all (unlike many other state schools), exactly where spring break would’ve been for us is where I started to fall apart mentally and academically.”

Students were set to take a break from classes and exams from March 15-21, however, the awaited spring break was moved to a month later, from April 12-18, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading on campus in the latter half of the semester.

The schedule after spring break will mirror the fall 2020 semester when the university transitioned all instruction and final exams after Thanksgiving break to remote delivery. The decision, however, did not please many students as they are struggling to cope with the heavy workloads and no break on the horizon.

Makayla Long, a sophomore majoring in integrative animal biology, said she understands the reason behind the shift, but she said with the lack of a break, as well as the heavy workload, she’s starting to “get tired.”

“Spring break being pushed back has also been difficult,” Long said. “It’s usually a time I can relax a little after my midterms. I understand why they did it, but I have not had a break and my brain is starting to get tired.”

Juggling both her personal life and academics, senior dance major Bella Succi said she’s “extremely burned out.”

“I barely have time to complete my homework and when I do it’s either late or completed at some ridiculous hour of the night,” she said.

“I don’t have time to manage my mental health and well-being so I have literally just been pushing through everything with sheer force and I am very much crumbling, to be honest. I understand why spring break was pushed, but I think we all really need a break.”

The absence of a mid-semester break has been a struggle for some, but for other students, it hasn’t been a big issue at all.

With a lighter workload, senior majoring in forensic studies and justice Mary Ann Sokolowkli said she is not bothered by having spring break in April.

“So this semester my workload isn’t a whole lot, I probably get 3-5 assignments weekly which isn’t a huge deal,” she said. “That being said, I don’t really mind having spring break pushed back.”

The workload, however, didn’t prevent Sokolowkli from feeling burned out throughout the semester.

“I do know that other students are really struggling because their class load is a bit more involved than mine is,” she said. “I’ve definitely felt really burned out recently, and to cope I spend lots of days at the beach to recoup my sanity.”

Ozge Tutar, a junior majoring in computer science, said the delay in spring break does not impact her as much as others, especially as she plans to remain focused on her classes to finish the semester strong.

“I think spring break being pushed to April was not a bad decision,” she said. “Spring break, in my opinion, gets in the way of my studies in general and causes distraction. With online school going on at the moment, the distraction would be immense.”

The delayed spring break might not impact some as much as others, but for junior computer science major Anshika Bhowmick, that’s not the case. After finishing all of her midterms, the lack of a break has made her feel “frustrated.”

With spring break followed by finals week, she said her much-needed break is not as close as it might seem as she will be “constantly worrying about the exams” during the delayed spring break.

“Not getting a break amid all this is exhausting,” Bhowmick said. “I’m taking comparatively tough classes this semester so shifting the spring break toward the end when the finals are knocking on the door isn’t helpful.”

Dealing with the stress and exhaustion of the semester hasn’t been easy for many students desiring a break during a busy semester. As a way to cope with the burned-out feeling, Long said she dedicates at least one day a week to rest while spending time with her family.

“My family helps a lot to make sure I am OK and encourages me to do well in school. But they also make sure I have time to take a break,” she said.

Avoiding the burned-out feeling through leisure activities has also been something senior finance major Shashonee Arrington has adopted to her schedule.

She said watching a movie or getting her hands dirty in the kitchen have been some activities helping her to look forward to the day ahead.

“This semester is feeling particularly stressful,” she said. “I’m doing my best to stay on top of things while still taking breaks.

“With spring break being pushed back, I definitely feel the difference. Not only am I attuned to it being closer to mid-semester, [but] I also just tend to get very tired a few weeks in. I understand why the school would push it back, but that doesn’t make the fatigue any easier.”

Almost at the end of her first year in college, freshman Abigail McCurter said the workload has been intense and it’s getting to a point that she’s feeling “tired and burnt out.”

“I’m a bit torn on spring break being moved back, I would really enjoy a break right now, my biggest breaks are the weekend and even then I’m usually doing some work,” McCurter said. “A few days off would be amazing.”

Despite the heavy workload and the mid-semester exhaustion, she still tries to find ways to relieve some of the stress through daily walks around her neighborhood as well as playing with her dog.

“If I start to get stressed or overwhelmed, assuming it’s not an urgent assignment, I just walk away for even just a few minutes and it helps,” McCurter said. “I’ll also sometimes take a break and watch a TikTok or two or a short YouTube video. Even if it’s a short break, a break is still a break and lets me focus on something that isn’t school.”

The decision to have spring break two weeks before finals has also invoked mixed reactions among students.

For Timothy Hagen, a senior majoring in international studies, having spring break two weeks before the end of the semester is “irrelevant.”

“I think pushing the spring break so far back kind of ruins it because what’s the point? It’s not really a break anymore to go from two weeks before the end of the semester,” Hagen said. “Something earlier would have been better. I think it hurts retention at a time when retaining knowledge is incredibly difficult because of online learning.”

Staying motivated has also been a struggle for junior behavioral healthcare major Carlie Grace Lawson. She said her grades have “slipped a bit” due to her exhaustion.

“I started out great and I’m still pushing but I’m in need of a break,” she said. “I think now is the time to have a break. Having it in the middle of April is so close to finals and most kids will probably spend their time studying instead of relaxing.”

With less than a month left to go, those managing their stress levels will have to keep themselves motivated for a few more weeks.

“Having spring break much later has been really hard because I haven’t been able to give my brain the break it needs,” Long said. “It’s continuously go, go, go.”