Students struggle with Pacing Break length, workload


Following two weeks of rigorous 4 o’clocks and examinations, Pacing Break – a two-day break that allows students to relax and recuperate – begins this weekend. In addition to the usual weekend break, no classes are held on Monday or Tuesday. However, many students have expressed that they no longer consider it a time to relax, because academic obligations interfere with their Pacing Break experience.

On the Friday before this break, most Lehigh students go home and spend the four-day weekend with friends and family. Students frequently have to cancel or shorten plans with friends and family because they must dedicate time to homework.

Tristan Heffler, ’18, a student in the College of Business and Economics, is one of many students who have faced this burden.

“Last year, I came home with a bag full of books, which was more disappointing for my parents than for me,” Heffler said. “They were looking forward to spending time with me, but knew that I had to dedicate some time to doing work.”

Oscar Gomez, ’18, is also affected by this issue. He said that work can be assigned over the break, but shouldn’t be due the day after students get back to school.

Homework is not the only problem. Students have also complained about having big projects due or tests held on the day after Pacing Break.

“The workload during the week of pacing break is fine, but the week after that I have tests,” Yeana Kim, ’18, said. “The tests are all so close together that I probably have to start studying during Pacing Break for them.”

Janil Barillas, ’17, a pharmaceutical chemistry major, faces the stress of both homework and examinations.

‘“Pacing break definitely is very stressful,” Barillas said. “A lot of professors apart from scheduling exams before pacing break, assign exams afterwards. One of my hardest exams is going to be after so I am probably going to be studying, for the most part, over the two days we have off. I have a homework set for that same class due as well, and homework for other classes. Pacing break should be for fun, but my workload gets in the way of hanging out with family and friends.”

However, for students who live far away, homework and exams are not the main issue. Instead, the issue for them is the length of pacing break.

“I do have a few homeworks due after the break, but I don’t think it’s an unbearable amount,” said Kaung Zeya, ’16, an international student from Myanmar. “I usually stay on-campus and go to my work study job, because there’s not enough time for me to go home. It would be great if we had more days off, but we can’t really do anything about it.”

Fernando Lefort, ’17, is a mechanical engineering major from California.

“I can’t go back home, because it’s too far and airplane tickets are too expensive,” said Lefort. “Both freshman year and sophomore year, I stayed over at friends’ houses. We didn’t do much. It’s too short to do anything of a break. It just feels like a long weekend.”

Some professors understand and are considerate of the problems students are facing and will reduce the amount of work they assign over the break. However, other professors do not agree that Pacing Break should solely be for relaxation.

Professor Michael Catalano teaches marketing and believes that Pacing Break should be a balance of both work and relaxation.

“Pacing Break should be whatever is going to allow students to get the most of their experience at Lehigh, whether they choose to take that time to study or relax,” Catalano said.

Professor Joshua Ehrig teaches entrepreneurship and attended Lehigh as an undergraduate student. Having been a student at Lehigh before, he believes that Lehigh students have the unique ability to achieve a balance.

“Lehigh is known as a ‘work hard, play hard’ school,” Ehrig said, “so my thoughts on this are neutral.”

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