NU should rethink winter break

Kristin Barrett

By Kristin Barrett

What would you do with six weeks at home, starting tomorrow? What if we didn’t have to come back to school until January because finals ended before Thanksgiving?

You wouldn’t have to pay for fare home twice in two and a half weeks, and if you normally don’t go home for Thanksgiving, you could. You might be able to get a job for the holidays to pay for gifts — or tuition. You might even get to go abroad or simply sit in front of the television and catch up on all that vegging you missed during midterms. And you’d have six weeks to spend with your family.

DePaul University does it. Carleton College, a tiny liberal arts school on the quarter system in Minnesota does, too. So why not Northwestern?

Schools like these started a several weeks earlier than NU. DePaul started 10 weeks of classes Sept. 8 — NU started nine weeks of classes Sept. 22. DePaul’s classes ended Nov. 16, then they had a reading day, and their finals run from Nov. 18 to Nov. 24. Carleton started Sept. 13, had nine weeks of classes, two reading days Nov. 18 and 19, and finals from Nov. 20 to 22. If we started about the same time as DePaul, we still could have nine weeks of classes, a reading week and finals week.

No one at NU would miss those lonely weeks in September, when all of your friends already have gone off to school and it’s just you and your dog, Max, watching “Friends” reruns. Instead you’d have those off weeks during December, when you’re recovering from finals.

No one would miss two weeks of December’s chill either. No matter what, you’ll come back to wear long underwear for January, February and March, but two fewer weeks in the cold wouldn’t hurt.

The only problem arises if you can’t take an internship or job that requires you to have a long summer. If you left school immediately after finals and came back the weekend before classes started, from June 11 to Sept. 3, you’d have exactly 12 weeks. That’s exactly as long as many internships require you to be there, so that eliminates any plans for vacationing.

Although you’d have a shorter summer, a long break would be in the best interest of students because it’s the most economically accommodating way to schedule quarters. A large number of students already work to help pay for tuition, and retailers always need extra help during the holidays.

DePaul University spokeswoman Denise Mattson said her university had the students in mind when it schedules the long break.

“A lot of our students work and learn,” she said. “(The long break) gives them an opportunity to have a significant amount of time. They can get a holiday job.”

She also emphasized that out-of-state students, who make up the majority of NU’s student body, don’t have to pay for airfare twice in three weeks.

Sarah Enloe, a DePaul junior who will study in Italy over the break, said the only downside of the long winter vacation is that there’s not as long a break to look forward to after Winter Quarter — and that’s not much of a complaint.

Have a happy Thanksgiving! I’ll see you soon.

Online Editor Kristin Barrett is a Medill junior. She can be reached at [email protected].