[break]F-I-N-A-L-L-Y: the end of the semester is actually in sight. Just a few more classes, a few more exams, and then…a couple weeks of freedom. Perhaps students wouldn\’t be feeling so burned out during the final stretch of the semester if given a couple extra days off before midterms. Other schools do it, why don\’t we?
There actually have been efforts to get a fall break at MSU. ASMSU drafted their first bill for midterm recess a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, this “break bill” never got past the administration.
“The fall break has been tossed around and supported since the 8th assembly (1999-2000),\” said Robert Murphy, chairperson of the 14th Session of the Academic Assembly of ASMSU. \”The Board of Trustees and administration are resisting it. We don’t need another bill, since the Assembly passed the last one. However, we would like to modernize that bill to give it a stronger push.\”
If students are able to get a fall break, it would be between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Representatives from ASMSU’s Academic Assembly would like to get a fall semester break next year and are organizing their plan of action. The chosen subcommittee will do research to draft an improved bill. But, before it is finalized, several more administrative members must pass it.
“The idea is to get a fall break like other universities,\” said Kyle Martin, external vice chair of the Academic Assembly. “It would be a stress relief around midterms, because it is hard to stay energized without a break. We just feel like we deserve a fall break, especially since other Big Ten schools have one. Grades would be better with a fall break, and this is something we are trying to prove.”
The University of Michigan’s Student Assembly lobbied for one a few years ago and their wish was granted. This year they had their annual fall break on Oct. 15 and 16, giving them a four day weekend right before midterms.
“We have been having a fall break for as long as I can remember,” said U of M senior Trisha Boyd. “It gives you the time you need to catch up before midterms. Professors are still available to meet during office hours, and there are still review sessions. It’s nice to know you have those four days; and even if you don’t need them to study, you can spend time with friends you haven’t seen in weeks. It’s a second Thanksgiving.\”
Grade-wise, MSU graduate assistant, Nick Bowman, thinks a few more days of studying could made a difference in students’ midterm grades. “I saw the averages; they weren’t very good,\” he said. \”I think midterms can get pretty vigorous, especially for first time freshmen who aren’t used to the whole scene, and even the seniors who want to get out of here. I think we could all use a couple breaks, to let us regroup.\”
According to the MSU Counseling Center, students who are struggling with personal problems usually find that their academics are affected in someway. John Lee, assistant director at the Counseling Center, believes the center is an integral part of the university because it helps students with their personal lives and in turn benefits their GPAs. For students struggling with academic stress, he gives several tips focusing on time management.
“Students must learn how to manage their time and set priorities, so they are able to deal with academic stress,” said Lee. “Managing time includes the basics of setting priorities; carrying day planners and knowing how to use them. Setting priorities can be difficult when you’re still learning what is important to you. One priority should be knowing how to take care of yourself, which includes exercising, taking breaks, enjoying recreational activities, and also not cramming for papers or exams the night before. Have a set of routines, which includes balancing responsibilities and taking care of yourself. Be willing to ask for help when you need it, whether it’s from a friend, professor, study group, tutoring, or if it gets to be too much — counseling.”
Lee says he cannot say whether a fall break would benefit students or not, because he has not worked at a university where one was offered. However, he believes when time management is in place, vacations and breaks can be great when they are used for catching up, relaxation or refreshment. Though, he doesn\’t think students who didn\’t take advantage of the extra time to study would benefit.
Many students and faculty are willing to try it out. “My mother teaches on a campus where there’s fall break and I see real merits in that,” said Jill Elfenbein, an audiology, speech and sciences professor. “To have a time in the fall semester, just like in the spring, for people to get caught up – this could be a very positive thing.
\”I realize it would extend the school year, but I think it would be a very good idea. I teach here and at Calvin College. We broadcast to Calvin College, and in the fall there are one to two days that they have off. I think they call them reading and advising days; just a couple days without classes. I think it’s healthy; it’s a very healthy way to run the program. I would like us to do what we can with adjusting the semester to accommodate that.”
One MSU premedical student, psychology junior Sahar Eftekhar, who can usually be found at the library, says a break would have been useful. “I definitely wanted a fall break,” said Eftekhar. “I study a lot, almost everyday I’ll be at the library. And it doesn’t take very long for me to get burnt out and tired from all that studying. I think a break before midterms seems really beneficial. It’d be a great way to recoup and gain the energy I had at the beginning of the year.”
But not all MSU students favor a fall semester break, and say they would rather just get the semester over with. “I would rather have the days off for Christmas break, instead of having them off for a fall break,” said Spanish junior Kathryn Spagnuolo.
And some students have it together with little stress, such as retailing sophomore Megan Laframboise, “My midterms worked out so that they were spaced out throughout the week, so I didn’t need one.”
Not everyone is so lucky – and right now, swamped with finals and papers, a break seems like a brilliant idea.

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