With the majority of UC Merced's campus population at home with their families, many students and staff members will use this time to reorganize and prepare for the spring semester.
Although there are many students who have already received their grades, some are still waiting to learn their fate before they travel back to their hometowns.
As the guidelines for financial aid are becoming more straightforward, many students will return for the spring prepared to give their best effort, determined to pass with the required number of units to maintain their eligibility for aid.
After about five months of rigorous coursework and stressful exams, the student population waits patiently to hear if they've completed at least 12 units for the semester. There's nothing worse than getting an academic dismissal letter in the mail right after the holidays, but that will be an unfortunate reality for students who may have struggled throughout the fall semester.
Fortunately, the UC Merced admissions office offers students the opportunity to write a letter of appeal indicating what they will improve on if allowed to return to the university. From the stories I've heard, it seems like student appeals that are submitted before the deadline are almost always approved.
On the bright side, for the students who excelled in their courses this fall, winter break will be a lot less tense and a time designated mainly for reflection and preparation.
For the class of 2013, traveling home for winter break is certainly a lot more meaningful than it is for the rest of the student population. UC Merced seniors will return for the spring semester eager to finish their final semester as undergraduates.
As all administrative and academic offices will be closed until Jan. 2, UC Merced staff also will have time to spend with their families, away from the consuming qualities of the campus.
Many faculty members are most likely not looking forward to January, as they must mentally prepare themselves for the high call volume they experience each year during that time. The financial aid office in particular will be flooded with questions concerning letters of appeal, financial aid status and other issues.
Although there won't be any midyear tuition hikes, students are encouraged to make sure all of their financial aid is in order, so it can be disbursed accordingly before the Jan. 16 deadline.
While most of UC Merced's students live in cities scattered throughout California and other states, some students will remain in Merced for the holidays even if it's not their hometown.
There are many students who have grown to consider themselves as a part of the Merced community and who look forward to celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve in the Central Valley.
The spring semester will commence Jan. 22, with most of the campus community returning to Merced several weeks before that date to get organized for the remainder of the school year.
Alexis Footman is a senior at UC Merced and is majoring in psychology.