November 28, 2022

PAPPAS | Thanks[for]giving Us No Break 

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Many of us took our Thanksgiving break the weekend before it was supposed to start. This is because the admin’s idea of an appropriate number of days for a “break” never seems to align with our own. Essentially, the Thanksgiving break that Cornell gave us was three days long: Wednesday, Thursday (a national holiday) and Friday. The weekend doesn’t count, as we are obligated to have Saturdays and Sundays off, and one of those days was spent traveling back to Ithaca on the busiest travel day of the year. Thus, the break was stingy to begin with. By nature of the holiday, Thanksgiving break comes at the busiest time of the semester, making the break not really much of a “break” from schoolwork. One might argue that working over the break defeats the purpose of a “break,” but I actually don’t think it does. 

About a month ago a fellow columnist, Julia Poggi ’25 wrote a column about the importance of not being too productive over breaks and “minimizing school work to the bare minimum.” Although I agree with her claim that “the best way to ruin a break is through unnecessary guilt surrounding productivity,” I see no purpose in forcing yourself to be unproductive. If you don’t want to catch up or get ahead on school work, by all means, don’t spend your break doing something you don’t want to do. However, if you don’t want to write an essay or study for a final (because who really likes doing these things anyway…) but choose to do one or both of these things because you know it might make your finals week a little less stressful, then certainly do that. 

This week is the last week of classes, which means finals week is well upon us. Final essays or projects have been posted for most classes. Despite how hard you might’ve tried to free yourself from doing schoolwork this Thanksgiving break, it was virtually impossible to do so entirely. Many of us, if asked, will deny that we did any work over break, that we were more unproductive than we actually were. But most of us actually probably did some work. From my perspective, lots of students at Cornell take their “breaks” to catch up or get ahead on schoolwork. 

So many of us have such concern and anxiety around grades, so if studying for a final or writing an essay over the Thanksgiving break can mitigate this anxiety, I don’t see anything wrong with doing just that. Mitigating stress and anxiety is similar to managing pain. When all the pain is concentrated in a single point, it becomes intolerable. When the pain is spread out over a large area, we can handle more of it. 

It’s the same thing with academic stress. When a semester’s worth of work is due for every class in the same week, this creates extremely high stress for a few days. When we spread out the pain — that is either studying for a final or writing an essay you don’t know how to start — then the work becomes much more manageable. Short breaks like Thanksgiving break allow us to do just that and to mitigate stress down the line. 

So, the next time someone says they didn’t do any schoolwork over the holiday break, know that they might be lying. Because most of us did something, and even if we didn’t accomplish as much as we would have liked, something is better than nothing. 

Isabelle Pappas is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Like It Iz runs every other Monday this semester.