Breaks from school are a greatly appreciated time of rest, relaxation and catching up on procrastinated assignments for the student body. They provide the opportunity to de-stress, especially for those with particularly cumbersome workloads. UConn students have poorly-spaced breaks through the fall semester. A three-day weekend right at the beginning of the fall for Labor Day and a week off for Thanksgiving. It is nice getting the full week, but the merits of getting an entire week off just three weeks before a month-long winter break are questionable.
There are a number of alternatives to consider that will not change the number of days classes occur in a semester. Some schools have a mid-semester break during the fall. This better mirrors spring break, which generally occurs closer to the middle of the semester. This break would occur after midterms exams (for the most part), and could be a full week or just a four-day weekend. Strategically, placing the break after midterms helps prevent students from becoming overloaded with assignments as they focus on testing.
As far as length goes a four-day weekend, with no classes Monday and Tuesday, would likely be the best option. A full week can throw off the rhythm of coursework and would be more difficult to compensate. With the four-day weekend option students would still get a decent break, but would have an easier time returning to classes. The days off could then be swapped for the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving break, or possibly tacked on to the beginning or ending of the semester. There are a lot of ways that the schedule could be adjusted to compensate a short fall break.
Let’s be honest, working constantly for weeks on end does no good for anyone’s mental health. And there are many students who would benefit from a smaller break in the middle of the fall rather than a long one with a couple of weeks to go. A mid-semester break helps ensure that students (and professors) get some time to take a step back, and decompress. Whether that’s by sleeping a bunch or engaging in fun activities with family and friends is up to them. But even though a full week for Thanksgiving is nice, the time off may be better redistributed elsewhere. The UConn administration should consider how best to structure their breaks, for the benefit of all.