Opinion: Shorter college breaks are better

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Credit: Jonathan Zhang

With the holidays fast approaching once again, this time amidst the pandemic, many college students are making the decision to return home. WSPN’s Emily Roberge and Jonathan Zhang analyze the pros and cons of a prolonged vacation and why students should limit their breaks to only a few weeks at home.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the return of college students plagues many with the fear of an influx in cases. Although COVID-19 cases are bad, we feel that a normal college experience should be considered to be of greater importance.

After talking to some WHS graduates, we found that many colleges decided to pursue one of two options. The first was an extended break from campus ending in January, and the other a short Thanksgiving break lasting two to three weeks. The former is unnecessarily long and presents a high chance of more COVID-19 cases while the latter offers a much-needed break without diminishing students’ college experience.

It’s all but natural that with COVID-19 cases rising, people are more concerned than ever about a big influx of people all at once. However, when students aren’t on campus, they miss out on the “true” college experience.

Ignoring the hefty tuition fee itself, the value of an in-person college experience is immense. Building relationships and extending your network is arguably one of the most important things about going to college. Communications are dulled online and opportunities to interact and make friends through natural means are diminished further.

Adding to this, students aren’t able to build the fond and lasting memories of a joyful college experience, like watching their football team play a game or attending the numerous clubs available to them on campus.

Imagine having to take all of your grueling finals with the distractions of your own home. In the background, there’s the noise of your dog barking, another Zoom call and the lawnmower outside. This is the grim reality of college students finishing their semester at home.

Spending time with your family during these uncertain times is essential for a student’s mental wellbeing. College is stressful for everyone, but with the addition of COVID-19, it becomes that much more stressful.

And for freshmen, we can only imagine how they’re holding up. They’re in a new world and trying to juggle those hardships along with the academic stress of college. This is really taxing, and a break is needed. A few weeks of staying in a familiar environment is the perfect solution to this.

When college students come home from school for an extended period of time, they will inevitably want to spend time with their friends. During their return home, students will be more vulnerable to the virus as testing won’t be as frequent as when they were on campus. Moreover, there’s a huge risk of the virus not being detected due to most people being asymptomatic. As long as students are home, cases are bound to spike.

This vacation is something that will provide students with a more than adequate relaxation period to alleviate the burden of stress from their minds. In fact, science tells us that the optimal vacation period is just eight days, meaning that any additional time is unnecessary.

However, we know that many of the college students reading our message don’t have the choice to stay for an abbreviated period, so we ask you this: please follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines however long you may be at home.