Midterms suck. So do finals. There is only one perk about taking these annoying tests: Once you’re done with them, odds are you can take a break from really using your brain for a while. The question then becomes what to do with the time off that follows.
For some reason, there is a sort of expectation that college students should spend these breaks (particularly the spring and summer ones) in specific ways. Spring break becomes the stereotypical college party scene; summer break involves getting a job to scrape together a few extra bucks. I don’t know how these generalizations came to be, or if they are even common generalizations of today (I may be a bit out of the loop), but in my experience, they are.
The whole point of having a break between terms, to me at least, is to relax a little. College is stressful, and exam time is even worse, so everyone needs the escape that vacation provides. However, what an individual will find relaxing is highly variable. For example, call it a personality flaw or whatever else you want, but neither of the above ideas ever really appealed to me. They aren’t quite my “style” (not that I have any discernable style). My idea of enjoying breaks from school involves playing video games until my eyes burn (really not as much time as you’d think), reading actual books (as in real paper), watching TV (mostly reruns — the more I’ve seen it, the better) and playing old ‘70s board games (stuff that makes chess look as simple as Candyland).
Perhaps all that sounds perfectly awful to you; maybe nothing else could sound better on vacation. Either view is valid (and thank goodness I have friends that agree with the latter). Ultimately, it is my choice; I work hard during the quarter, so I earn the chance to do whatever I choose when the term comes to an end. The same goes for every student here, and in every college — when you’ve written your last word, filled in your last bubble and put down your pencil, you’re free from that moment until the next quarter ominously rolls around.
While most of the above has advocated using time off from school as a total vacation, that does not mean it has to be so; it is merely my conception on what breaks are about. I do think that such vacation time can be very productive, if you choose to use it as such. It is perfectly valid to, say, get a job over the summer, whether you’re looking for work experience or just to have some cash to throw around. While I think summertime should be used for relaxation, not everyone needs as much time to relax as others (perhaps finals didn’t hit so hard for these people), so for those who aren’t content with sitting around all summer, getting a job isn’t at all a bad idea.
Of course, there is the option of taking summer courses. Ideally, the only people who would take classes over summer would be those proactive types seeking to graduate a few quarters sooner. It is unfortunate that this can’t always be the case, as some people need to take such courses just to graduate on time. If this is the case for you, well, you have my condolences for the loss of your summer vacation; school has to trump fun, I guess. If you’re one of those proactive types, well, good for you; you’re thinking ahead, and that’s an admirable quality.
In the end, there is no wrong way to spend your time off from school, as what one does is dictated by individual wants, likes and needs. How you seize the day on your vacation time is totally up to you.