Are you struggling to sleep at night because you’re thinking about how much money you owe? Has studying 7 days a week stressed you out completely? Are you thinking about taking the semester off from college?
Studenomics is all about helping you find the answers to your problems. I don’t judge. This is why I put together the most detailed post possible on taking the semester off from college.
[Full disclosure: I first wrote about this topic all the way back in 2009. Since then, article has picked up a ton of traffic and comments. I wanted to take the time to highlight some of these comments today and to add to the discussion.]
What are the reasons in favor of taking a semester off from college?
Pay down your student debt and save up.
It’s easy to judge and say that taking a semester is a waste of time but what about if you’re one of those students that are forced to fund their education through loans? Some students are fortunate enough to have their parents subsidize all of their education costs, but if you’re all on your own and stuck with all of the costs then don’t let anyone judge you. Do what’s best for you and if you truly feel that you need to pay off that student debt a little bit because it’s growing to a ridiculous level, then do so.
[Must read: How-to save 25k by 25.]
Each college program has its own level of intensity and difficulty. If you feel that the stress is affecting your health in a negative way then take some time off to allow your body to recharge. Think of the many long term benefits of allowing yourself to prevent mental burnout.
Work in the field (or a closely related field).
Some fields are difficult to get into so if you want to get ahead of the competition then you should try finding volunteer work or an internship in your field of study for a semester. Not only will you gain valuable experience but you’ll have some nice qualifications on your resume. Some programs also have peak periods where it’s easier to find work.
There’s nothing wrong with working to make money and change your schedule up. You also get a feel of the “real world.” I’ve seen friends find work in construction and then promptly return to college because they wanted more.
You’ve lost interest.
This can happen to anyone and in fact has happened to me before. One semester I had so much going on in my life and the courses were so bland that I simply lost interest. I stuck it through to the end and passed all my courses but when it was all said and done I regretted not taking the semester off.
When you’re not focused and passionate about something then what’s the point of lying to yourself? If you’re not happy studying the subject, chances are that you won’t enjoy working in the field for the rest of your life.
What are the issues with taking time off from college?
You might not return.
We all have that one friend who left and never returned. I don’t want you to regret not earning your degree just because you made the decision to take one semester off and you never went back.
You lose focus, steam, and care.
When you leave school, you forget about school. You’re out of the system and it’s easy to lose focus. When you’re making money the last thing on your mind is the idea of sitting in a classroom.
What did the readers have to say about taking the semester off from college?
Ever since this article was published, we have heard from parents and students.
Wendy wrote in with:
“As a parent, I was at first really angry to hear my son say he wants to take a semester off from art school. He’s anxious and depressed and not really sure about his major/degree. His art school is expensive and he has scholarships, loans and help from his parents.
Some of the factors he hasn’t considered are that the tuition always goes up, he may lose his scholarship, and I’ve already budgeted to pay for this year. I do understand that he may need time to reevaluate his degree, and I respect that choice. My biggest hurdle with the decision is that I don’t think he’s dealing with the core issue – anxiety – by taking a semester off. I’m trying to stay positive and listen carefully, so we can come up with the best decision for him.”
Alexa seemed a little confused with:
“I’m planning on taking next semester off as I’ve come to realize that I’m no longer motivated in the major which I’m studying now. I want to take it off to figure out what I really want to do with me life. A lot of people say that I’ll never go back, or I’ll be so far behind. Another thing that concerns me is that I’l lose my insurance by taking the semester off.”
Adrian was totally stressing out:
“I’m having the same problem. My school isn’t a bad school, it’s just me having problems figuring out what I really want to do with my life. I’m currently in my second semester of my freshman year as a graphic design major and I couldn’t be more unhappy. I love art, but apparently its next to impossible to get a decent paying job in art and graphic design isn’t necessarily something I’m interested in. I honestly just picked graphic design because it was the only major my college offered that kinda interested me. Now I’m thinking I should take the rest of the semester off to reevaluate what I should do with my life and possibly transfer to a different college or an online program. So confused and stressed right now. Thinking about class on Monday is literally making me sick.”
Steve jumped in with:
“I told my folks that I’m going to take a semester off and they literally flipped and now everyone’s blowing up my phone talking about how it’s a bad idea.
Only 1 of my friends actually told me to do what’s best for me and my parents fail to realize that.
I’ve been so stressed with school, I’m depressed almost all the time. Not to mention I got a scholarship after coming from a bad university and ended up losing it that same semester. I’d rather try to pick up a job and pay for school myself rather than take out any more loans. The more people try to force me to go back, the worse I do. At least if I have a job, I can have my books early and really come in enthusiastic about learning and trying to get ahead.”
Philip was more optimistic:
“I think there are a lot of people like me that took off a semester or two, whether they wanted to or not. For me I changed my major and school during that time off and came back wanting the degree I was working towards as opposed to before just going after a peice of paper. Now it has paid off greatly and worked out well for me.
It would be good for some students to take a chance to re-evaluate their interests and reasons for college and where they think the degree will take them in the 30 year future.”
Is it okay to take the semester off from college? Should you just power through to enjoy life after college?