Thanksgiving break has come and gone, but have students really gotten back into school mode? “No way,” said freshman Sarah McGrail. “Definitely not,” sophomore Caroline Keating agreed. Between the unavoidable and completely unexpected two-week break caused by Hurricane Sandy, the four-day Thanksgiving weekend shortly after, and the current anticipation for winter break in just three short weeks, the last thing on students’ minds right now is their schoolwork.
Over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly difficult to return to the normalcy that once enabled students to focus on their work. Though it has not been the fault of the University, for President Gaffney could not have possibly handled the situation any better, it seems that Sandy is mostly to blame for the lack of focus on the students’ part. “I used to have a good work ethic before the hurricane hit, but after all that time off it’s been hard for me to get my work done. It felt like the semester was almost over by the time we got back,” McGrail further explained.
Although students usually have some what of a difficult time getting back into the swing of things after the usual short Thanksgiving break, the extra two weeks off from the hurricane this semester have made it even more difficult. Many students were unsure of whether or not certain projects and homework assignments were supposed to be handed in on their original due dates, or whether or not deadlines had been extended. The loss of power statewide made it almost impossible to contact professors with questions, or even access the Internet to check eCampus or WebAdvisor.
Matthew Lawrence, communication professor said that he sees a decline in student interest for certain classes. “Usually classes where you lecture, you can tell that fewer students have read the required reading,” said Lawrence. “But it’s not like an epidemic or anything.”
Very few students were able to do their work while they were home during the hurricane due to power outages and other unfortunate means of destruction, which only meant that by the time they arrived back at school, their pile of work had grown substantially. Although most professors were incredibly understanding and flexible with project deadlines, it was still a struggle to get back on track. “I’m still having a little bit of a hard time getting back on schedule,” Keating said. “It hasn’t been easy.”
Most students would probably agree with both McGrail and Keating that adjusting to classes after the hurricane was no easy task. Even though not having power was a situation that took a lot of getting used to, it certainly hindered the students’ ability to get work done while at home, which in turn affected their focus and work ethic once they finally arrived back at the University.
Keating, a commuter, also explained that because her house in Fair Haven still had not gotten its power back even after classes at the University had finally started up again, she had absolutely no motivation to do her school work. It is more than likely that her case was similar to the hundreds of other students who commute to campus every week. But regardless of whether students live on campus or travel every day, it was still a fight to regain the motivation that was lost during the hurricane.
After spending almost two long and (mostly) powerless weeks at home, students were greeted with the realization that they only had a short amount of time to go until Thanksgiving break when they finally got back to school. This only made matters worse. Getting back on schedule was already difficult enough, and now it seemed that barely anyone was interested in doing homework or going to class. It became harder to concentrate as the anticipation of yet another break from school grew stronger. It seems to be a vicious cycle this semester: the ever-present knowledge that there is a break right around the corner being followed by a lack of motivation that unfortunately comes along with that knowledge.
With winter break less than twenty days away, the cycle has begun yet again. It seems that students are more concerned with buying presents and planning get-togethers with friends from home than they are with going to classes and finishing their homework. Even with finals coming up, most students seem to be just about done with the fall semester. They have lost most of their motivation and drive to work as hard as they did in the beginning of the semester, and it has become especially apparent now that the end of classes are nearing.
Lawrence reveals his strategy to boost student morale toward the end of the semester. “I try to engage them more, maybe find actual activities that require them to interact with each other on more of a personal level, or something requiring them to be proactive in their approach,” said Lawrence.
Even without the two weeks off during Hurricane Sandy, students would have most likely still had a difficult time rebounding from Thanksgiving break.
However, because of the additional weeks during which classes were cancelled, students have lost almost all of their motivation. It has been an incredibly rough semester in terms of class time, which has been very little help to the work ethic of many students. Winter break might be right around the corner, but the anticipation leading up to the last day of finals is what is going to make these next three weeks seem much longer than they actually are.
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