Feb 19th, 2022, 08:00 AM

Early Spring Break Signals Long Post-Break Semester

By Luken McGuire
Photo credit: Luken McGuire
Students and faculty feel overloaded with work with midterms right after the break

AUP students and faculty are frustrated with the early scheduling of spring break, saying it puts midterm exams too early in the semester, places extra stress on students and faculty in the second half of the semester, and doesn't come at a time when the weather is opportune for spring activities.

However, AUP does not follow an American break system, which results in the lack of a Thanksgiving break in the fall, and an abnormally early spring break that does not correspond with any school, but one, in the continental U.S.

This calendar year, AUP's spring break begins on Feb. 19, only five weeks into the four-month semester. Even though students are still far from the middle of the semester, they face midterm pressures the week they return from the break.

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“It is hard to learn anything substantial within a month and then have such a large gap of break so quickly, I feel as though the teaching is rushed,"  said Caitlin Lam, a freshman at AUP majoring in Art History. "It seems counterproductive to prepare for a midterm that occurs directly after two weeks of vacation. It doesn’t make that much sense, and I feel like my break will be full of stress preparing and studying."

In addition to student unrest about the untimeliness of spring break, some faculty members have expressed their discontent for the disruption of learning. Considering the first week of the semester is typically acknowledged as a drop/add week, faculty are expected to administer midterm exams after only four weeks of regular classes with all of their students.

“Spring term 2022, sadly, has forced many faculty either to rush through or linger longer than we would like on course content before ‘spring break,’" said Ann Mott, an English professor at AUP. "This has a huge bearing on students’ engagement with and retention of course material, making mid-terms almost futile.” 

According to AUP Registrar Pauline Bonnot, the decision for placement of the spring break was made by the Calendar Committee, which includes representatives from the Registrar, Academic Affairs, Student Development, Human Resources and Admissions offices, as well as Faculty union delegates, and members of the Student Government. There are certain criteria within which the decision was made, but the reason given for the early break is that it has to happen around mid-semester, and if the break had come later, it would have resulted in students having midterms on their first day of return from break. 

Additionally, many students note that the spring break falls during the winter, making the weather inopportune for warm-weather vacationing that some hope for in the spring. Meanwhile, the average temperature in Paris during the first week of the break will be less than 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

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Bonnot said that "The weather is not usually a factor [in the decision of break placement], and the representants of SGA present in the committee did not point it out during the deliberations."

Ultimately, the timing of spring break this year means that professors are expected to cram work for students prior to midterms in order to ensure that the exam has sufficient content, which makes the exams a difficult endeavor for both students and professors.

Mia Baccei contributed to this report.