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Courtesy of David Sim/Creative Commons

Spring break elicits images of overworked students partying their stress away in bathing suits and bikinis at tropical resorts, traveling to exotic new countries or relaxing at home with family. For many Penn students, however, spring break is no break at all.

Most professors at Penn assign regular weekly workloads to their students over the break. Some even assign projects, papers and midterms due immediately after the break, which forces students to cut vacations short. For students enrolled in such courses, spring break means hours of studying in Huntsman Hall and Van Pelt Library or at a dusty bedroom desk that has remained untouched since high school.

From the Sociology department in the College to the Business Economics and Public Policy department in Wharton, courses across the curriculum this semester have midterms scheduled on the first day back from break. In some cases, this timing was not planned. The “Managerial Economics” midterm, for example, was postponed due to the partial snow day on March 5, the Thursday before break. For others, however, exams were originally scheduled immediately after break.

“I think professors should either give the same amount of work, or less work because I know a lot of people travel over break or at least go home and want to spend time with their families,” College freshman Logan Castrucci said.

Some courses had so much extra work over the break that professors extended online office hours to help students complete their assignments on time.

“I don’t think that my professors individually gave unreasonable amounts of work, but putting together the workload for all my classes, it seemed an unreasonable amount for break,” College freshman Emily Hoeven said. “It made me a little more stressed than I would have liked — especially the weekend before I flew back to Penn — and I always kept a little checklist in the back of my mind of stuff I needed to be working on.”

Not all students had disproportionate workloads over the break, though.

“I had all my midterms ... before break,” Wharton freshman Elaine Chen said. “I literally did not have a lot of work compared to other people which was really nice because then I got to explore Hong Kong and not worry over break.”

Other students used spring break to catch up on work on which they had fallen behind on, or to get ahead on future and more long-term assignments.

While students’ experiences differ, most agree that they ought to have either a regular or reduced workload over the break to give them an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves.

“Sometimes, we need that time off. I know in high school we never really had much break,” Castrucci said. ”So it’s definitely nice having a whole week where you can relax and catch up on anything you fell behind on.”

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