A year into the pandemic, Cabrini students, staff and faculty members were not given a spring break during the spring 2021 semester due to a late start into the year. Many students utilize their spring breaks as a mental health break from classes and schoolwork and to rest before finals in the coming weeks when they return. In a poll on Instagram, 92 percent of the voters think that college students should have a spring break for very similar reasons.
“We all deserve a break,” Amanda Lynn, senior elementary and special education major, said. “Everyone needs a break in schools, whether you’re a student or a professor, to be able to relax and get through the rest of the semester.”
Lynn, along with other students and individuals, view spring break as a way to relax and rest halfway through the semester in order to prevent any “burnouts.” Senior criminology and sociology major Mary Scafidi feels that “having school for such an extended amount of time will lead to [students being] burnout.”
Other remarks on the Instagram poll included “being burnt out makes you perform worse in class and assignments” and “not having a break increases burnout from students, staff and faculty which then lowers the quality of work everyone put into their job.”
Dr. Melissa Terlecki, professor and Chair of Psychology and Nerney Leadership Institute Co-Director, understands the shift in the academic calendar but also believes that everyone deserves breaks during the semester and such breaks are well-deserved and serve many purposes.
With courses still online for most, if not all classes, students continue to learn virtually or in a modified way. The pandemic has added more stress on top of schoolwork as class lessons have changed and many are struggling.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many (but perhaps not all) people’s mental health,” Terlecki said. “Many (again, but perhaps not all) students and educators learn and teach better in person. Social distancing and fear of infection for a sustained period of time has been detrimental.” There are many studies further detailing this impact, including some from psychology faculty in the department.
With all her classes online and being a commuter this semester, junior early education major Nicole Bydalek has experienced being overwhelmed with the amount of schoolwork she has been given.
“I found myself stressing out and staying up until 4 a.m. sometimes trying to get done work in time,” Bydalek said. “I saw myself and a lot of other students start to struggle at the end of February.”
Junior elementary education and special education major, Anthony Frasca, and senior masters in special education with an Autism Endorsement, Selena Scialfa, agreed that a break is needed for students to focus on their mental health.
“Students need a mental health break and need time to spend with their family. Rest is important,” Scialfa said. “Mental health breaks are important in order to keep us healthy,” Frasca added.
Some students would have also preferred a longer Easter break in order to catch up on their schoolwork. “I think it would have made more sense for Cabrini to give us that entire week off for Easter break,” Bydalek said. “That way we would have more time to catch up with any assignments we had and we would’ve had more time to relax and spend that week with our families.”
Such remarks were also met with the seven percent who did not think a break was needed by college students. One remark stated “you don’t get breaks in real life” and Terlecki responded, “Most professional jobs do allow for vacation time, so it should be comparable to a spring break.”
Other remarks included professors having a set amount of time for course work and time, as well as having a spring break can take away from summer vacation.
If a student feels overwhelmed or is struggling during the semester, Terlecki encourages students to reach out to their professors.
“I provide my own help and other resources for help,” Terlecki said. “I do advise them to reach out to the Center for Student Success and Counseling Center, among others. I also ask if they are comfortable letting their Advisor/s know and their current instructors/faculty know.”
If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed, contact academic counseling for options.