Spring Break is coming up a week and a half from now.
It’s one of the most anticipated times of the year for college students all across America.
After two months of no breaks, Spring Break is a time to catch your breath and prepare for the latter half of the semester.
And while we still have midterms to go before we can reach that free time, I think it’s good to look ahead and think about what’s coming up next.
But there’s something that I’ve been wondering about ever since my freshman year of college, when I first heard a senior in McAuley talk about how he couldn’t wait to “get wasted” and “blow off” all of his work over Spring Break.
Namely, I’ve been wondering if we use Spring Break wisely.
Obviously, many of us do.
Many of us come away from Spring Break rejuvenated and ready to take on the cavalcade of assignments, papers and general bric-a-brac of university life.
But for every success story I hear about Spring Break, I hear at least one other story about how a student came back from break even more overwhelmed and even deeper into burnout.
Why is this?
I think it’s because some students don’t effectively use their break.
This is gonna sound cruel, but it’s the truth: Spring Break should not be a time in which you altogether completely neglect all your work and neglect all your assignments.
It’s really, really tempting to use it that way, but using it that way is a trap that will lead to disaster.
Why do most of us look forward to Spring Break?
Because it’s a time to get away from the endless workload university pushes on you.
But completely ignoring your workload over break is the worst thing to do.
It won’t decrease your workload. In fact, it’ll probably end up increasing it.
You have work due after break, and time marches onwards infinitely.
You may be able to push your workload out of your mind for a bit, but it’ll still exist, creeping closer and closer as the amount of work you have to do a day to keep up grows larger and larger.
From my experience, many professors design their courses around you doing at least a little bit of work over Spring Break.
Sometimes, this is overt, like when a professor assigns an essay to be due on the day a break ends.
Sometimes, it’s more subtle, like the professor scheduling a series of longer-than-usual readings after break.
But the intention is there nonetheless, because they assume that you will put in the work over break.
In fact, in an English course I am currently in, the professor told all of us that we were expected to read ahead over break, all but confirming this hypothesis.
Yet, most of us see Spring Break as a week-long summer vacation, where we have nothing school-related to worry about.
It’s no surprise then, that so much burnout seems to hit around early March.
It’s because many students put off all their work until break is over, and then are almost inevitably crushed by the week-long workload they have to complete in a mere few days.
This isn’t an accusation at anyone in particular, or even a sign of failure for those who have done this. I’ve been guilty of this before too.
But it is an accurate observation, I think.
So how do you combat this?
Well, the answer isn’t to swing in the complete opposite direction.
Break is still supposed to be relaxing and fun, after all.
If you lock yourself in your room, doing all the work you can, you will get ahead, but at what cost?
This leads to burnout as well, as this time meant for you to relax and regroup is turned into something much, much more intensive.
The answer, for me last year at least, was to do some classwork a day.
Less work than I would do in an average day at class, but work nonetheless.
I found that this still let me enjoy my break, while also getting ahead on the work to come.
This made the transition back into school life at the end of break much smoother and easier.
I wasn’t crushed by work, or left behind in any of my classes.
I didn’t even suffer from burnout when I got back to school after using this strategy, which was honestly a sort of first for a big break like this.
Yet, it wasn’t effortless either.
It did sting to give up some of my break time to work, but it more than paid off in the end.
So to answer the question in the headline: No, we don’t.
But we certainly can, and if we do, we can get much more out of Spring Break than we do now.
I hope that this advice can lead to at least one student having a much better Spring Break experience this year.