Opinion: Winter Break Should Start at Thanksgiving

The time span of winter break has fluctuated in the last year due to the pandemic. 

It is that time of year again, Nova Nation. No, I am not referring to the Christmas season, nor am I talking about the hallowed basketball season. I am also not talking about the impressive push by our football team in the postseason after a recent triumph over Holy Cross. I am talking about the most dreaded time of every year for students here at Villanova: the three-week push between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

It is no secret that student motivation and energy are currently at an all-time low. To make matters worse, this is a time when students need to focus and “buy in” more than ever with finals and papers creeping ever closer. 

The problem is that the entire student body had just experienced the sweet but brief respite of Thanksgiving break. While the break was much appreciated by the student body, it may have had adverse effects on work ethic.

I agree that it seems  to make more sense that a few days off would allow students to recharge their depleted batteries and face finals week head-on, but this does not seem to be the case. For me, getting up for school Monday morning was one of the worst feelings of my time here. I thought it would go away once the week wore on, but that was not the case. 

Every day this past week I have felt slightly tired and apathetic, counting the days until Christmas break comes. I have been less focused and have felt more burnt out in my classes now than I was before Thanksgiving break.

I thought it was only me, but many other students on campus share a similar sentiment. Rather than serving as a carrot, the Thanksgiving recess seems to have whetted students’ appetite for a break from studies but only offering a few days of breathing in actuality. 

Instead of feeling energized to finish strong, the break instills feelings of academic exhaustion and burnout that materialize in the last few weeks between breaks. 

Many students suggested extending the break to Monday and Tuesday so that students can enjoy the whole week, but that still does not solve the larger problem. We are still left with this frankly messy and inefficient three-week strip to finish off the semester.

The solution lies in reworking our semester layout to set students up for success on finals and to offer them a true break before they are back at it in the Spring semester. 

I am proposing moving our Christmas break so that it falls in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

This would mean students taking finals before Thanksgiving and would mean the Spring semester beginning a week or two earlier. It would also prompt the school year to begin a couple of weeks earlier and end earlier as well. 

While it sounds tedious moving the breaks around, the benefits are impossible to ignore. Students would still have their Fall break and then would only have to push until Thanksgiving to finish off the Fall semester. They would attack finals without falling out of rhythm with their studies. 

They would also be able to celebrate both the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons without the impending doom of deadlines and end-of-semester obligations, and they would have an actual break before the next semester. 

This is an important time for Villanovans (students and faculty both) to spend with their family and friends. 

In reality, the school year would be just as long as it is right now, and both semesters would remain generally equal in weight. There are, however, some downsides to such a change. 

While many students abhor the threatening three weeks before Christmas break, they appreciate the Thanksgiving break even more so. It is something to look forward to after a rough five weeks following Fall break. 

We would also lose out on the many awesome Christmas celebrations put on by Villanova organizations like CAT, VSMT and a capella groups, to name a few. 

Although Christmas is a wonderful experience at Villanova, the positives of having a longer holiday break away from school allowing students to truly unwind outweigh what is lost. Not to mention granting the motivation of students a fighting chance in the final push. 

Regardless, as we now only have one day of school remaining before finals, I encourage my fellow Villanovans to make these last few days count so they can wrap up this semester and relax this holiday season.