Taking a semester off from school can sometimes get a bad rap. Ive often been told not to take a semester off, because you might not go back. While this can certainly be the case, taking a semester off can also have many benefits. It can help you to save money in the long run or give you a needed rest. Whatever your reason, theres a right way and wrong way to take a semester off. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your semester off.
Reasons to Consider Taking a Semester Off
There are many different reasons for taking a semester off. The first step to deciding whether or not to take a semester off is deciding why you want to do it. Somemon reasons for taking time off are:
- Family Troubles: If your parents are separating or going through a divorce, it can be hard on a student. If this is starting to affect your grades, consider taking the semester off. Just make sure you decide before the withdrawal period, otherwise it could have negative effects. This could save you money in the long run as you will not have to retake any failed classes.
- Illness: This one seems obvious, but if youe down with an illness that prevents you from going to class or doing your work, taking the semester off could help. Take time to recover both physically and mentally before heading back to start a new semester.
- Financial Issues: Didnt get the loan you needed to cover tuition? This is amon problem, especially with rising tuition costs. Consider taking some time off to work full-time. While not everyones first option, its sometimes a necessity for paying for school. Before considering this, make sure youve exhausted all other loan options.
- Need a Break: You might find that after a few semesters, you are burnt out, or that you need a change of scenery. Taking a semester off can allow you to rest and clear your head, hopefully allowing you to start your next semester reinvigorated.
What to Do Instead
- Apply for an Internship: While school may not be on your radar for this semester, taking on an internship could prove beneficial. Building your resume is an important part of the college experience and internships are a great way to learn about your potential job field. Youll gain hands-on experience while staying active during your time off. If a full-time internship is too time-consuming, consider a part-time one. If youre lucky, you may even be able to find a paid internship. Some internships require that you get course credit, but not all, so make sure to put some time in researching. Tip: Interships has a database full of different internships and is a great place to start.
- Travel: Taking time off to travel isnt possible for everyone, as it usually requires more funding than available. However, there are some ways to see the world, cheap. Volunteer programs often offer scholarships or grants. So you can take a semester to volunteer in another country for practically nothing. You usually get housing, meals, and potentially a small stipend. If volunteering isnt your thing, in many countries you can work at resorts or vacation spots. They provide housing and a salary for your work, and you have your off hours to do a bit of traveling.
- Volunteering is a great way to make the most of your semester off. Rather than sitting on your couch at home, you could be interacting with people in yourmunity. Food pantries and homeless shelters are great local options for volunteering and are always looking for help. There are also programs you can sign up for to volunteer in other places in the US or abroad. These can be particularly great options because they allow you to see another part of the world while still working for a cause. Like internships,munity service can be used as a resume builder, which is an additional bonus.
Why Taking a Semester Off Could Be Problematic
Before taking a semester off, make sure that you not only plan your time well, but also consider some of the cons. Here are just a few:
- You Dont Go Back: This is seen as the biggest issue when a student takes the semester off. Students might get into a routine, maybe get a full-time job and be stuck. The key to this is knowing yourself, and whether or not you are motivated enough to finish school.
- Youll Graduate Later: Unless you overload on credits for a couple semesters, you will most likely be graduating later than you had planned. This could be negative in that maybe friends will have graduated, leaving you with a semester left of school.
- Loan Payments Could Kick In: If you have taken out loans for previous semesters, taking a semester off might be an issue. You have a 6 month grace period from the time you stop attending school until you begin to repay your loans, so make sure you are re-enrolled and notify your lender before the 6 month mark.
Though taking a semester off is not for everyone, it can prove beneficial in the right situations. When deciding whether it is for you, consider why you want to take time off and think about the best ways to use it to your advantage.
by Gemma Maddock