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How Did Students Feel About Penn State’s Wellness Days?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Penn State’s newly introduced wellness days weren’t always thought of fondly. But to get a better picture of students’ opinions, we asked our readers last week for their thoughts. And, boy, did you folks have some thoughts!

First, we asked what students did over their days off. Most said they were busy catching up on schoolwork or doing work for class the next day. There were a few people who even had class on the day that professors were supposed to give off.

However, there were still a fair amount of people who were able to get out and enjoy their break. Some people said they went hiking, golfing, and volunteering in the community, all of which are fun ways to relax during a very stressful semester.

But were the wellness days effective?. Some were a little more bullish on the idea than others.

“I am glad we got some time out of class, but it is definitely not enough,” Britt, a second-year psychology major, said. “These wellness days just feel like a tease, and I’m still doing classwork the entire time.”

While Britt may have seen some light in the situation, others did not.

“No, I didn’t actually get to take my mind off of school like during spring break, since we had work/classes the day after every wellness day,” Sean Murphy, a sophomore chemical engineering major, said. “The benefit spring break provides is that we actually get to meaningfully separate ourselves from our work and reset ourselves for the rest of the semester, and the replacement of it by wellness days is contributing to the burnout experienced by everyone.”

So, if people didn’t like how wellness days were put together, what should Penn State do to make them work better if they return in the fall?

Many recommendations focused on putting each wellness day in a row or make them Fridays or Mondays. Wellness days were put in the middle of the week to limit travel for students, as having a long weekend may incentivize students for traveling out of State College. With that restriction possibly becoming less strict as more get vaccinated, it might be a possibility.

The other improvement that was suggested was making professors understand the point of wellness days. Many responding students said they had work due the next day and needed to do it on the wellness day. I like to believe that it’s an issue of communication from the university and not just ignorance of the majority of professors. But either way, professors need to understand that students need a legitimate break for their own mental health.

Now, should Penn State bring wellness days back? Yes…but with a few changes.

Those adjustments could be some of the recommendations that their peers gave, like making them on Fridays and Mondays or making them be consecutive. 53.3% of respondents believed this would be the best bet.

Meanwhile, 34.7% of students said they did not want to see any version of wellness days in the fall. Luckily for them, there will be an actual week-long fall break to give them some time off towards the end of the semester. About 12% of students would welcome wellness days back, even if they remained the same.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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