Show of hands, Penn State. Who here is actually happy about being back in classes this week?
Stop. Put your hands down.
I didn’t say happy to be back with all your friends or happy to be back in a place where you can stay out past three and not have to sneak like a ninja through your own house to keep your parents from waking up, I asked who was happy to be back in class.
You know, class.
That thing you were obnoxiously complaining about to your friends while studying for final exams.
That thing that some of your friends from home don’t have to endure for another few weeks at their respective universities.
Now at the risk of sounding like I’m whining, let’s talk about why the two- week winter break you just blinked and missed should not be allowed again.
First of all, college is taxing — mentally and physically.
For 15 weeks over the course of a semester, students immerse themselves in a world of deadlines and exams, working on a pitiful amount of sleep and one too many burritos from Chipotle to try to fulfill the requirements that each of their courses demands.
So much is expected, and I’m not complaining about having to work hard.
But between all our coursework, internships, jobs, extracurriculars and relationships, it becomes hard not to look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.
While we are studying for final exams, we are dreaming about the casual, hopefully stress-free homecoming, where one can, if nothing else, catch his breath or maybe just hang out with his dog.
As an out-of-state student, I personally get this opportunity three times during the academic year: for Thanksgiving, winter break and spring break.
And for international students, it’s even worse. Most of these students only go home at the conclusion of each semester because of airline prices and long flights.
So when these times become shorter, I, as well as my peers, lose out on the arguably essential opportunity to recharge our batteries and to just catch up with loved ones.
That is why for the next two weeks, give or take, I’ll be enduring some subtle form of psychological torture, as pictures of all my friends still enjoying their five week breaks flicker over my Facebook and every other social media platform I waste my time on.
The worst part is that these pictures will come from most, if not all of my friends.
Reason being that Penn State’s semester is set up to be an extra week longer than most other institutions, as previously reported.
Including finals, that comes out to be 16 weeks per semester, compared to the more common 15-week schedule.
Among other things, this causes Penn State’s winter break to be one week or two shorter than many other schools, including other universities in the Big Ten.
My question thus becomes, to whomever it may concern, what exactly these extra two weeks a year are doing for me and all the other students at Penn State?
My comprehension of the material is certainly not superior in any way because of the three more 50-minute classes we end up with.
I certainly don’t need an extra weekend to try and unsuccessfully emulate every college party I’ve seen in every inaccurate college movie since Animal House.
In my experiences, I have found that my professors don’t use the extra week to teach us much more.
In fact, last semester half my teachers canceled the last few classes in order to give my peers and I more time to study for the final.
So what then?
Why not let me and every other kid who doesn’t get a chance to go home all that much have an extra few weeks a year to enjoy these breaks before we all graduate into corporate America.
I might not end up working at a job in my hometown in Rhode Island.
I know that getting time off then will be even more difficult than it is while I am studying at school.
I only ask that Penn State keep in mind people like me who do not get to go home much when deciding future academic calendars