For Ohio State’s second year on semesters, Fall Semester means students missing out on extra downtime.
Some universities on semesters such as Bowling Green State University, Otterbein University and the University of Dayton have a fall break, which is an extended weekend during the month of October. OSU does not.
Some OSU students said a fall break would be beneficial in order to help relieve the stress of classes.
“It (would be) a good break after midterms to regroup and de-stress,” said Ryan Lovelace, a third-year in finance. “After all those midterms, students stress out and they need to take a break from studying. I think it’s good for your mental health not to be worried about school all the time.”
Other students support the idea of a fall break because it would give them an opportunity to visit their families.
“Other students (at other schools) can get the opportunity to go home (on fall break),” said Drew Delaney, a first-year in business. “It’s hard especially if you have football tickets because you don’t want to miss a game that you paid for already. You might not be able to go home until Thanksgiving because the timing is not right. If you have a couple extra days, your parents may make the trip to come and get you.”
Delaney said, though, even without a fall break, students can perform well.
“A fall break would have been nice, but I wasn’t expecting to have it … I think students can get used to it if they plan accordingly and don’t rely on it,” Delaney said. “I stay on top of things and try not to procrastinate. If you spend one of those weekends studying instead of going out, you can get your work done.”
Brad Myers, the university registrar, said the Council on Enrollment and Student Progress, which is in charge of creating and changing the OSU academic calendar, has discussed whether a fall break should be implemented at OSU.
“Last fall, one of the things that I and many others heard frequently from students and from faculty was that the term felt really long,” Myers said. “Part of it was just a transition. Instead of being in a 10-week-plus-finals term, you are now in a 14-week-plus-finals term … I think beyond that, folks typically felt there was a long period of time between Labor Day and Veterans Day, so October kind of dragged.”
Myers said creating the academic calendar involves balancing many interests, including the number of instructional days during each semester and the structure of Welcome Week.
“There is no perfect calendar,” Myers said. “In other words, there are always some trade-offs. We made the decision that we did not want any less than 70 instructional days (and) we agreed to protect some sense of Welcome Week.”
Myers said with residence hall move-in over the weekend and classes having often started on Wednesdays under the quarter system, the Wednesday start day was maintained to preserve Welcome Week.
Myers added that the council must also consider ending the semester with enough time for Autumn Commencement to run smoothly.
“It was a matter of kind of counting days, ending in early December such that there was still good enough processing time to be able to process the final academic checkout for students that were graduating,” Myers said. “Exams end early in that week and we are having commencement the following Sunday.”
The university approved the first five years of the academic calendar when it decided to switch to semesters, Myers said.
“It is already tentatively set … if we were going to change the calendar, we would need to start those discussions so that we would give a lot of notice to the people that were involved in the calendar to be able to know that we are going to change,” Myers said.
Even if that discussion started this semester, the decision of the university might not be enforceable until Fall 2015, Myers said.
He added that changes to the 2014 calendar are not necessarily off the table, but become less likely as the 2014-15 school year approaches.
Myers said OSU has looked at the academic calendars of other colleges when considering the idea of a fall break.
“I can report that we have tried to do a little benchmarking,” Myers said. “A lot of our peer institutions do in fact have a fall break, and it is typically a long weekend in October to try to provide a little bit of a break.”
Ty Anderson, a third-year in speech and hearing science, said upperclassmen are still getting used to semesters.
“It still feels like we are adjusting from quarters even though I was only on quarters for a year,” Anderson said. “The break would break up the long semester.”
Anderson said he hasn’t been able to make it home to Napoleon, Ohio, since before the semester began.
“I have not been home since July. If we had more long weekends, it would give me a better excuse to go home and give me more time to go home because it is a long drive,” Anderson said. “As far as negatives, I don’t see why we shouldn’t have one. I think everyone by then could use a break since the only day off we’ve had is Labor Day.”
Anderson said more than 10 weeks into the semester, some students are getting tired.
“Semesters feel long,” Anderson said. “With the fall break, it would be nice to have a couple days off to do nothing. I feel like I have been on the go since August with constant assignments.”
Anderson also said professors could benefit from a fall break.
“One of my instructors just today was telling me about how he doesn’t even call the weekends ‘the weekend,’” Anderson said. “He calls them ‘pre-weeks’ because all he does on the weekend is prepare for next week’s class. I think it would be nice if they had a break and time to get their stuff together.”
Jenna Dolan, a second-year in marketing, though, said a fall break is not necessary.
“I don’t think we need a fall break,” Dolan said. “We have a little break coming up in November with Veterans Day. I would rather get my stuff done and go into winter break earlier.”
Dolan added that the types of classes a student is enrolled in can influence the need for a break.
“It depends on your course load,” Dolan said. “If you have a lot on your plate you probably need a fall break more than other students.”
Myers said the council would seek student input if a change to the calendar was considered.
“If we were going to change the structure of the calendar, we would go to all the student government groups,” Myers said. “We would provide an opportunity for students to be able to provide input informally somehow. In other words, I think that it would be pretty openly acknowledged that we would want to hear from students.”