I have to say, for me, I could not handle an extra length build season. I love FIRST, I love the time spent in the lab, but honestly, I could not handle an extra length build season. (Disclaimer: A whole ton of this post will be generalizing)
My team is small, with around 5-15 people, depending on the year. The fact of the matter is that we do all of our spirit, pit organization, competition planning, etc, in the time after the robot is bagged. Yes, we do build a practice bot to drive around, but that usually only requires drivers and programmers (some occasional hardware), and we can have others focus on spirit and such. I know for a fact though, if that robot stayed out of the bag, we would be in the lab for a few hours every day, working on improving it (not having the people to spend time elsewhere), then we would go home, and spend time getting ready for the other aspects of competition, such as spirit, pit design, pre-scouting, etc. Some of us work. I personally know a kid on my team who works 3 jobs during build seasonThen, after all that, we would do homework, and try to get a few hours of sleep, As Evan (ehfeinberg) so perfectly put it, “students… we don’t know where to stop”. On a team like ours where everyone has to do everything, we would not stop until we fainted, or died from exhaustion.
I know for a fact many students have their grades take a hit during build season, myself included. In fact, my grades could not handle a longer build season. I am still fighting to recover from the hit I took in January to mid-march, and with finals coming up fast, I am working late nights to pull my grades up. If the build season was longer, my grades only would’ve sank further down into a place that I did not want to be. And, as a result, would be near impossible to bring back up to a GPA that I can handle and be happy with.
Another problem is that many FIRST students, like myself, are very busy. Directly after the season is over (literally the day after stop-build), I am having pre-season waterpolo. Now, I know if build were extended, I would have to cut something, and waterpolo would have to go, because I love FIRST, but I would prefer to be able to do both. I also play in multiple bands, and have many rehearsals/performances in the spring that, if robotics build were to continue, I would have to cancel. I know that I am not the only student who is this busy, as many FIRST members are very active in their communities.
Finally, as hard as it is to believe, some of us do have friends outside of FIRST that we practically never see during the build season, because they have interests outside of robotics (acting, singing, dancing, etc,). In my Dungeons and Dragons group, which consists of my best friends, I am the only member who is in robotics. (Yes, some of them have tried it out, but all of them have other interests, I respect that). The fact is, some of us are teenagers who enjoy being social, and we give that up for 6 weeks to participate in this program that we are very dedicated to. I would be willing to build longer, and have to wait longer to see my friends outside of school, but I would not like it. This is a fun activity, a great experience, and joining was the best choice I ever made, but, I am still a student who would like to be around his friends more. What I am really trying to say is: this is not a job.* We are high-schoolers.
*Yes, I know some teams view it as such, but I am generalizing here
TL; DR: As much as I love build season, My team, similar to many, is short staffed, and uses the time without the robot to work on other aspects of competition. Grades are already a problem with the short time we have, and would get worse the longer the season was. Other activities outside of FIRST do exist for many of us high school students, and FIRST students have social lives that we give up for build, and relish having back post-season.