Winter break at SNHU holds different meanings for each community member. It’s a time to go home to family and friends for the holidays, a transition period between semesters, or a time to recuperate after a long semester.
In the past, winter break lasted up to three weeks. However, that changed for the ’21-’22 school year when winter break was shortened to two weeks. This year, winter break lasts from December 17 to January 1. Additionally, students are expected to move into dorms on New Year’s Day.
A shorter period between semesters does little to benefit SNHU community members, instead creating more questions and concerns.
Burnout is one of the many factors that were not taken into consideration when switching to a reduced winter break. After a long semester of balancing schoolwork, extracurriculars, and jobs, students look forward to a well-deserved break from responsibilities.
Burnout affects motivation to maintain obligations and can cause a shift in priorities. Students will focus on their well-being before their education, which can affect their performance in their required courses to graduate.
Students ended the semester burnt out, yet are now expected to return to classes not even two days into the new year.
Family and Friends
For many, going away to college is a new experience; one in which students are placed into a new environment, away from their families and friends whom they have known for their whole lives.
With the advent of the university’s shortened winter break, students who may be experiencing homesickness and need that social recharge will barely get the chance to see their loved ones.
SNHU has over 400 international students on campus, which is about 15% of the campus population. The winter “break” will barely give them a chance to take a much-needed hiatus. Students who live overseas or across the country don’t often get the opportunity to go home throughout the semester, and often rely on winter break to see their families. However, when the trek from school to home takes one, sometimes two, days, that two-week break gets even shorter.
Many students are opting to stay on campus over the break because spending thousands of dollars on flight tickets isn’t worth it when they are barely getting the chance to get their feet in the door.
A common stereotype about college students is that they are all broke, and that stereotype is true in many cases. Many students find it hard to work on campus when they are trying to juggle five classes, involvement on campus, a social life, and more.
Students often rely on the opportunity to go home and make some cash before returning for semester two. With under two weeks of eligible working time, students will have virtually no chance to work, given that most employers aren’t going to hire someone for less than two weeks.
Faculty and Staff
The reduced winter break doesn’t only affect students. Faculty on campus also experience the effects of having less time between semesters. Many professors are required to have their spring term course curriculums completed before they post final grades for the fall term.
Preparation for the spring term is no simple task. Furthermore, the shortened winter break also reduces the time spent with loved ones for faculty and staff.
Online vs. Campus Programs
One of the explained reasons why the spring term begins a week earlier is to be in line with the online school calendar. SNHU’s online school is vastly larger than its campus-based programs. However, online students have a more flexible schedule than students on campus.
Online school provides a flexible schedule for independently driven individuals. It allows students to learn on their own time while being able to hold full-time jobs and maintain other obligations.
Campus classes are more structured and affect the schedules of students that attend them. Students work around the courses they’re enrolled in, maintaining workloads while participating in extracurriculars, jobs, and outside activities.
Campus students already have restricted schedules. Reducing winter break lessens what little flexibility campus students have in their already-restrained schedules.
In fact, there is no obvious benefit for students in aligning campus and online classes. While there is a minority of campus students that enroll in an online course or two, it does nothing to benefit the majority of campus students who prefer in-person classes.
SNHU executives also explained that shortening winter break would allow students to get out of school a week earlier. The intention was to give students a “competitive edge” when searching for summer jobs and internships.
However, many internships don’t begin until May and June. Students submit their applications and interview before school gets out. Furthermore, there is no guarantee students will utilize that extra week of the summer to put out applications.
The SNHU community has voiced their thoughts on winter break since the initial announcement during the ’20-’21 academic year.
During the last academic year, students began a petition on change.org to “Bring Back SNHU’s 3 Week Winter Break,” gaining up to 350 signatures. Students and some faculty have expressed their concerns and dissatisfaction with the reduced winter break.
Faculty and students don’t need an extra week of summer vacation; they need a longer buffer between semesters.
SNHU is doing its community members a disservice by not respecting their time or taking their concerns into account. The SNHU community gives everything to the university, and it’s time they returned the favor.