School holidays are for recharging, not completing assignments

Professors and students should work together to make breaks balanced

Holidays are for relaxing and reconnecting, not studying.

Many students can agree that school breaks should be a time for relaxation, family, and food, not panicking over academic deadlines. Still, many professors assign work over holiday breaks, leaving students little choice but to sneak away from family festivities to complete their schoolwork.

Most holidays occur at stressful times in the semester, when students need to catch up on academic and extracurricular obligations. But with the time spent traveling between Kingston and home, visiting loved ones, and partaking in much-needed self-care practices, there’s barely room in our schedules to finish piles of work successfully.

Holiday breaks like Thanksgiving and the fall term break shouldn’t be completely devoted to cracking down on assignments or studying for upcoming midterms. Professors should be aware of students’ needs.

Having deadlines during or immediately after holidays forces students to deprioritize their mental health, plans with family and friends, or even going home for the break. This can be especially stressful for students who struggle with living away from home.

On the other hand, it’s fair for professors to reason that holidays such as the fall and winter term breaks are intended to provide students with extra study time. Assigning work to complete over the break may also help professors avoid falling behind in their lesson plans.  

That said, having assignments and midterms for every class to work on over the break defeats the purpose of providing students with time to catch up. It also can’t be expected that students will spend the entirety of their break studying—at the midpoint of the semester, students need time to relax and recover from stress more than ever.

Some teachers or parents might say students should aim to finish their work before the holiday if they want free time. However, with midterms and major assignments due in the week leading up to holidays such as Thanksgiving and the fall term break, this is often not feasible.

A possible solution is for professors to have flexible due dates for their assignments. For example, an initial deadline before the holiday and a second, hard deadline a few days after it. This would encourage students to aim for the first deadline while providing them with leeway in case they’re too overwhelmed to finish the assignment before or during the break.

In a perfect world, professors could also strategically space assessments throughout the semester, so assignments and midterms for every class don’t coincide around the sixth week of the term. It would also be beneficial if professors of the same discipline made a better effort to communicate their assessment dates to each other, to avoid scheduling all of them in the same block of time.

For students feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work they’re facing before a holiday, it’s valuable to write down all of your upcoming assessments and evaluate what can be realistically completed during your time off. Contacting professors well before deadlines and asking for extensions can also be helpful.

While assigning work over holidays can’t be completely avoided, students and professors alike can try to make it easier for students to have balanced holidays.

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