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Academic breaks needed to combat burnout

By Staff Editorial
On November 9, 2018

Nationwide, most college students have been attending classes for approximately 10 weeks now with Labor Day being the only scheduled day off. 

While it’s true that not every student attends each class daily, the challenges of managing all aspects of life are starting to take to take their toll with some. 

Right around the corner are holidays and finals, which will add to the pressure and stress the average student will experience this time of year. 

Many campuses observe a Thanksgiving break that is typically a week long, though some observe only three days off. 

For 2018-2019, Kirkwood Community College’s break is Nov 19-23 and fall classes began on Aug 20, which means students are in school for almost three months before getting scheduled time off from academic demands.  

Finals are approximately two weeks after returning from Thanksgiving break, then the lengthy winter break begins. 

Classes for spring resume on Jan. 14, Spring Break brings a week of respite in March and the 2018-2019 school year wraps up in early May. 

When reviewing the schedule, it begs to ask why there is not a more even match of time off between the semesters. 

Many experts and institutions agree that burnout is a real condition and is best managed by preventing it, which includes taking care of one’s personal health along with academic requirements and having a proper school-work-life balance.  

Concorde Career Colleges’ blog quotes Rhonda Gillylan, a student services advisor at their Tampa location as saying, “A symptom of burnout is feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. Stress if left unchecked can lead students to lose interest in their educational and career goals or lead to health problems.” 

There was no indication in any resources that burnout is more likely to happen in one semester over another so why do so many campuses have a hefty winter break and a week off in the spring mid-way through but do not have a break in the fall until the semester is almost over and the holidays are knocking on the door?  

Several resources cite maintaining good sleep and other self-care points as well as a healthy life-school-work balance as critical to preventing burnout and additional stress so why not balance it a bit more so students have a better opportunity to be successful all around? 

Locally, Coe College and Mount Mercy University both have a break in October that occurs approximately halfway through the fall term and is in addition to time off in November for the holiday. 

While both are private schools, their schedules and requirements are comparable to KCC’s. 

A logical option would be to modify the winter break slightly to allow a small break earlier in the fall. 

Having such a lengthly period of time off almost immediately following another break seems a bit clustered and minimal time could be diverted to give students a little buffer room. 

The goal of this proposed change would be to reduce stress and allow a better chance of achieving a healthy balance, for both personal and academic success.


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