Anyone who has ever run a race is familiar with water stations. And for those who are not, allow me to enlighten you. Depending on how long the race is, the event coordinators will provide stations with water for the runners and walkers. These stations are important for the well-being of the runners, because it allows them to rest and re-hydrate. In the same way, breaks in college refresh students as they grind their way through each semester.
They give you a chance to stop and take an academic breather. I don't know about other runners out there, but I don't like to stop unless I reeally have to. The longer I can keep running, the better I feel about the race. Additionally, the less you walk, the better your finishing time. So when I reach a water station during a race, I feel relief. Because now I can walk without feeling weak or like other runners are judging my slower pace.
When you attend a college with a particular rigorous academic cycle, you can easily get overwhelmed with expectations of how often and how hard you should be studying. During a break, you can easily disregard your academics and no one bats an eye.
Breaks are wonderful because they give you a chance to recover mentally and physically. Get that rest that you've skipped out on. Read that fiction book that you got for Christmas and still haven't touched. Go to the beach and tan. The possibilities are endless - and they don't have to be academic!!
But they also give you a chance to get ahead. Some runners are excellent trainers and manage their pace well throughout the race. For them, water stations aren't entirely necessary. Or maybe they're really hardcore and don't like walking in a race. Additionally, those runners are able to get ahead of the others who choose to walk.
Maybe you're rested physically and mentally and don't need a break. Maybe your time management is excellent enough that you don't necessarily need the break. If you find that this mythical description fits you, then congratulations! While the rest of us are sleeping past noon, you can be getting up and doing homework and working ahead on assignments.
Breaks are beautiful gifts from the academic gods. Regardless of how you choose to spend your break, the fact is that it is a wonderful gift. Use it to rest, use it to get ahead, or both!