Photo by Ryan Brinkman | Photo Editing by Haley Hoidal
Pepperdine students returned to in-person classes this fall after a year and a half of online instruction and adapting to an entirely new way of learning from home. While it’s exciting to have a campus filled with students again, this semester’s transition makes it especially taxing for many students.
For junior Biology major Kelli Brickner, this semester has been draining both physically and emotionally, and she said one way to alleviate the pressure brought on by this period of adjustment is to give students a better fall break. Brickner noticed she and many of her peers aren’t performing as well as they normally would this semester as they transition back to traditional learning.
“There’s this sort of unspoken feeling of, ‘Is everybody feeling what I’m feeling? Is everybody struggling with this as much as I am and nobody’s talking about it because nobody wants to admit that they’re figuring things out again?’” Brickner said.
Students had two non-consecutive days off from classes this semester to commemorate the Labor Day holiday and for a faculty conference Oct. 1, but Brickner said the latter wasn’t a restful break.
“I don’t think it was perceived as time to actually take a break,” Brickner said. “It was like, ‘Oh, here’s extra time to do your homework; you have exams coming up — study for them.’”
By the time Thanksgiving break rolls around, students are entering the final push of the semester. Brickner said these brief three days off are not restful but rather a time to stress about grades and work on projects.
“That’s two weeks before finals, and I know on my syllabus I’ve got big assignments due around that time,” Brickner said.
In addition to making Thanksgiving break a full week, Brickner said a solution that could be beneficial for students is a week of online classes sometime in the fall.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to doing a week of online classes just to either go somewhere else, get a change of scenery or regroup,” Brickner said.
Brickner said she worries continuing Pepperdine’s traditional fall-semester schedule will affect academic performance and the overall well-being of students — and that caffeine just isn’t cutting it anymore.
“I don’t want to have to be doing homework so much that I’m only getting four hours of sleep a night, because that’s not sustainable, and not being able to fully pay attention in class is also not sustainable, so where do you expect us to cut corners?” Brickner said. “If you don’t want us to have to cut corners, then something else needs to change there.”
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