It’s undeniable that, due to the co-op program and subsequent need to take summer classes, Northeastern has a pretty bizarre schedule. Returning from a first-week-in-March Spring Break and being only a few weeks away from starting summer in April has caused me to start thinking about why Northeastern’s schedule is the way it is, and what the pros and cons are. Before writing this article, I interviewed a few other students on campus and found a general consensus – Northeastern’s schedule isn’t exactly ideal, but combined with the other aspects that make the school unique, it’s hard to picture it any other way.
“It’s different, but I feel like we have to do it that way in order to graduate in 4 or 5 years,” said Sarah Tahami, a freshman communications major.
Aside from the short, early Spring Break, the most unusual thing about Northeastern’s schedule is the four-month summer. Some students are daunted by the prospect of spending four months at home; others are excited at the idea of traveling and working for longer periods of time.
“I kind of wish our summer was shorter,” said Jessica Grill, a freshman psychology major. “Like, what am I going to do with myself for four months away from my friends (at Northeastern)?”
Nick Dyess, another freshman who studies business, expressed a different opinion.
“The longer summer gives you opportunities to do stuff,” he said. “I’m going on a [Dialogue of Civilizations], and it’s not going to eat up my entire summer like it would at other schools.”
Of course, the concept of a 4-month summer is most often relevant to freshman – after the first year, many students will be spending their summers on co-op or taking classes on campus.
“When you get out early, summer’s so long, but for most kids – with co-ops – it doesn’t matter,” said Dan Canfield, an accounting major who will be graduating in 2017.
This intellectually rigorous schedule offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Civil engineering major Joe Mazzeo, who is part of the graduating class of 2016, cites the lack of summer vacations after the first year as a disadvantage.
“You don’t really get a summer,” he said. “You don’t maintain good friendships with people from your high school because of it.”
However, middler international business major Milena Gaczkowska sees the early summer as an advantage, both for planning out her co-ops and her summer classes.
“I like that we get out earlier so that I can start planning my summer earlier,” she said.
Grill admits that starting on the co-op system is likely to give her a different impression of the summer schedule, but she sees this as a positive development.
“I haven’t been on co-op yet, so I’ll probably feel different in two years,” she said. “On co-op, you have more time to get involved with things.”
In terms of both Spring Break and Summer Break, Northeastern’s schedule often doesn’t match up with that of other schools. This can create another disadvantage regarding spending time with high school friends.
“A lot of times your vacations don’t match up [with] your friends from other schools,” Grill said.
Despite controversial opinions on the longer Summer Break, and taking into account the complexity of the co-op schedule, many of the students I talked to said they were glad Northeastern had shorter Winter and Spring Breaks, since they had a tendency to get bored and unmotivated when they spent an extended period of time at home.
“I’d rather be home in the summer than be stuck at home over Winter Break,” Canfield said.
Gaczkowska had a similar sentiment.
“I like having a short Winter Break because I don’t have much to do,” she said. “I think Winter and Spring Break are more than (long) enough.”
Overall, it seems that while many Huskies view the unconventional schedule as imperfect, freshman often appreciate the longer Summer Break and many students agree that Winter Break and Spring Break are as long as they need to be.
The fact is that while Northeastern’s schedule is a little off-beat, and it can be frustrating to read about all of your high school friends going off on a 2-week Spring Break when you’re stuck in classes for another month and half, it’s hard to imagine NU being able to offer the advantages it has now with a shorter summer and a longer Winter Break. While undergrads may raise skepticism about the schedule in the short-term, it’s clear that in the long run it can help students get as much as they can out of their Northeastern experience.