The Endless Semester: No Fall Break

By: Sara Kate Jackson

Contributors: Hannah Fromdahl, Bryan Gardner, Tyrese Lane and Austin Reed

Photo by: Michael Dunn

Another day, another change in the age of attending college during the global pandemic, and this one hurts: cancellation of fall break. 

While some might call this a minor scheduling change, students strongly disagree. It’s hard to quarrel with the university’s reasoning. Sending students home for fall break could contribute to a surge in COVID-19 on their return to campus, and some universities have already decided to cancel spring break because a vaccine might not be available.   

But that doesn’t mean students don’t feel the ramifications of no fall break. Jacob Green, a senior, observed that he could neither go home nor spend time with friends at school because of the virus. 

“That’s the one thing that has hit me the most– the fact that I go to work, I go to school and now I won’t even get a break,” said Green, who felt that students become overwhelmed. “When the only thing I do during the day is school, I just feel so unmotivated. Taking a break helps a lot to reset my mind.”

Many students rely on holidays like fall break to help cope with the pressure of school. 

“I know a lot of students who come from far places and stay in the dorms, they don’t have family around and that’s very difficult,” said senior Dustin Williams. “I feel bad for someone who struggles with mental health because this is probably the worst experience they ever had during a semester due to COVID.”

Christine York, a junior, believes students need a break to recharge: “I deal with mental health issues myself, and it is hard to balance school life with everything going on.” 

Even in a normal year, clinicians have a name for what they have found particularly plagues college students: Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a form of depression that occurs when the days become shorter and there is less sunlight. 

The major symptoms are loss of energy, oversleeping, overeating, weight gain, craving carbs and social withdrawal. Sound familiar? That may be because young adults, especially college students, are more susceptible to this disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). With the added stress of school, these symptoms could become worse.  

“I need a mental break, so no fall break kind of sucks for me,” said freshmen Jorjalin Weaver. “During a time like this, my mental health is continuing to suffer, and online workload has been causing me to have mental breakdowns and panic attacks. Having that fall break would be so good for me to spend time with my family.”

Some students are taking the lack of fall break into their own hands and planning their version of a vacation. 

“I’m thinking about having a roommate Halloween party, so we can all still celebrate fall safely during this pandemic,” said senior Audrey Pentecost. “I feel like it’s important to put time aside for yourself.”

Green agreed: “I’ve been buying fall and Halloween decorations for my home every time I go out because it just makes me happy, like that’s my version of self-care and having my own little fall break on the weekends.”

On the bright side, Valerie Whyte pointed to one benefit of no fall break. Christmas break will be longer, meaning more time with family and friends.