Taking The Semester Off From College : Is It Worth It?

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.

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.]

Recharge.

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.

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.

Is it okay to take the semester off from college? Should you just power through to enjoy life after college? I would love to hear from your experiences.

38 thoughts on “Taking The Semester Off From College : Is It Worth It?”

  1. I’m a big proponent of taking a semester or a year off if there’s a reason for doing so, although I suspect I’m in the minority. Higher education isn’t something to rush through or just a hurdle you need to pass before “real” life begins. If your goal is to get it over with asap, you’re probably missing out on a lot.

    My cousin recently asked me about taking a year off- her parent’s almost flipped when she suggested it, saying “If you stop, you might never go back!”. My response was “So what?” There’s no point in pushing forward if you’re burnt out or unsure about your chosen field. If you want to return, you’ll return. If not, you’re better off for it.

  2. I am in college now and just don’t feel fully happy. I don’t know what I want to major in, and am not a fan of my classes. The lecture halls are boring and I could actually not care less about 3 of my classes. I just don’t know what to do about next year, if I should transfer or take a semester off then transfer. I go to Indiana University and I just don’t love it. I feel like it’s difficult to get involved with theater without being a part of the BFA program or a theater major and I just feel kind of lost here. I have a couple good friends but mostly am acquaintances with people. I don’t want to leave then regret it because I do like some aspects of the school: the Hillel center on campus (JEwish Student Union), the town of Bloomington, going to parties 🙂 but it is very Greek dominated which isn’t what I wanted or was expecting. I don’t know where the right place is for me and am kind of confused. Any advice?? Thanks so much!

    1. **Skip to the bottom to get to the advice if you don’t wanna read my story”

      I was in the same boat and I sorta still think I am. I commented on here a few months back about how stressed I was and I still am. My first university was in the Middle of nowhere in Arkansas. It took 3hrs from my hometown to get there so I just stayed on campus. I hated it there. they treated us like kids and it was so cheap that I hated it there. the food was bad, mold everywhere, no cameras etc (it was an old HBCU). after one bad semester I packed up my things and left and went to my home school the University of Memphis. I instantly loved it there. I don’t party at all but I instantly loved the campus life. at my old school there were hardly any good looking girls. At UofM, u would see one every where you turned. the school was more technologically advanced (nasdaq tickers in the halls, flatscreens, a huge library, better food, etc-I could go on). After 1 semester there I ended up being so stressed that I took a semester off. I failed Trig and Survey of world regions and lost my scholarship. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I wish that I stayed at the Arkansas university. The work was easier and studying actually paid off (at UofM I have no free time and always have to study and I’m still failing trig. If My teacher gives me an F, I’ll have to pay for it again myself or I’m gonna be ~2yrs behind my major if I don’t take it and pass. If I would’ve stayed at the HBCU I would’ve passed easily.).The workload is so heavy that I haven’t even been to a sports event, attended any campus functions, or even visit the cafe more than 2x since I’ve been there. Then not to mention it is so hard to socialize at this school because (not to be racist or anything), the school is mostly white. At the HBCU I made at least 10 new friends in addition to the friends that I grew up with in Elementary school. At UofM, when I’m in class, most people act as if they don’t even want to collaborate with me in group efforts. Like for example, I can do good work (I was #2 in my HS class), but when a teacher tells us to do group work, the white students will try to do it all themselves and barely get your input on anything. They will huddle together and try to do it all and tell you to just sign your name on it.At the HBCU, I never had this problem. As a matter of fact more people leaned on me in group efforts. The teachers even liked me sorta.The entire atmosphere here feels as if a lot of people (not everyone) think they are better than you. I even asked on numerous occasions in my economics class if people wanted to join me for a study group (this would lighten our workload and we all could have free time to do other stuff). Everyone looked at me and said no they had other things to do etc (basically they were lying and making excuses). Nobody there wants to do any studying with the blacks (because some probably guess we’re all lazy or w/e). The japanese kids stuck with each other, and the whites did their thing.anyway I’m passing econ and they are failing and now they try to ask for help on tests, which I refuse to do. I still have an offer up to come study with me in the library but no one comes. Then just last week I got mixed in a group for my Japanese class. counting myself there were 4 black people in the group, 1 korean, and 1 white guy. Guess who tried to take over? The assignment was due yesterday. I was finished with my part 2 weeks ago. The white guy in my group told everyone in the group he was going to do all the work. Just email him our stuff and he’ll take it to kinko’s and print it off. so….everyone leaned on him and the closer it came to the due date, no one had anything but me and the white guy skipped our class on an important day to go to english, as if our group assignment (a final assignment) wasn’t important. I took it upon myself to steer everyone in the right direction, but only 1 group member participated. I told everyone to give 2 forms of contact, email and phone. only 1 person did that. Anyway we scheduled to meet in the library the next day and I told everyone that I would be in class during the time but text me the location and I will be there. only 3/6 of us showed up. We waited until I said forget them let’s get to work. We just so happened to see the white guy sitting off in a study room by himself and try to do all the work himself. He talked down on all of the black people in the group and tried to degrade MY work when I was the only person who submitted it. He got mad because he wanted to copy my list of sentences to make the cards but I put an American “.” instead of a japanese “?”. I had to put him in his place. Everyone was content with the guy talking trash to them but me. He tried to do the entire assignment on his own the night before by himself and it was cool to everyone else because they wouldn’t have to do anything. He shot down my card designs (which were better than his, the usage of the wrong period,etc). he kept talking to me like I was dumb because he used a $1000 corel draw program to design our cards. He actually told me “you may have never heard of it, it costs $1000 to replace. It pissed me off so bad I wanted to hit him (at my old school I designed all the school flyers and party banners, I have 6+yrs experience in graphic design and 3d modeling, but I don’t know wtf corel draw is? he was mad because I used a free software and designed a better card layout). So I asked my group members in all honesty why they would let him sit there and talk down and not stand up for themselves. Nobody said a thing. I submitted my part and left. I refuse to work with racist people. I asked EVERYONE to email ALL 5 OTHER group members their work so we would all have a masters list. He didn’t want to participate at all. I asked him 2x and he just looked at me as if he didn’t trust me or wanted me to see his work. I got work from everyone the day before but he didn’t email me until 7am on the day of the assignment, and class was at 11. He tried to sabotage my part of the assignment (Luckily I emailed the instructor the night before and alerted here).He wouldn’t call and let any of us know where the meeting location changed to, he wouldn’t respond to texts, he skipped out on us to do something else on an important class day, but on the day of the assignment, he could finally “find our numbers and call”. Anyway the next day when class started, the group only had half of the work. Every other group was well prepared. Dude went to kinkos and printed cards with grammatical errors, some were missing, and some cards didn’t even have the required picture. Then he had the nerve to tell us that those were all his cards (who didn’t see that coming?), if we wanted our own copies, pay him and he’d give us a personal copy (he tried to sell us a copy of our own group assignment wtf?). when the teacher told us to get up and present, I told her that I refuse to take part in the presentation. I told her the situation and the attitude he had, and how even though it was a final project grade how I refused to kiss his ass like everyone else was doing. I set aside my trig work for a week just to give this group work priority, I couldn’t really afford to do that. However, I refuse to sign my name off on anything “half-done”. I either do it completely or not at all. He was shocked to see that I wouldn’t do the presentation with him. (I felt good afterwards for taking a stand).

      **Here**
      before you change schools, weigh the good and bad. Are you making money there? (At my old school I made 300 a month cutting hair, at my new school I haven’t made a dime. Also internships are harder to come by).I understand about being an undecided major but do something that interests you. I was a beast in english and science in high school and everyone wanted me to be a teacher, but I didn’t enjoy them enough to do it in a long-term situation. I took up computer science. I love tech and I’ve always been good with computers. If you major in something that you are really interested in, you will do so much better and gain more self confidence when the A’s roll in with little effort.If you transfer, you may or may not get new friends, and you may end up being in a couple of racist situations like I did at the new school. Most schools are greek dominated (some more than others), that’s just a part of college life. At my new school there are hundreds of thousands of greeks, but they are more modest than the ones at my old school. At my old school the guys there only went to school to get Greek Letters and when they did they acted like they were intangible. Also, how will this affect your financial aid? Will you get new scholarships? better internships? Lecture halls are very boring, I won’t lie. If you know that you are too bored to listen, do what I do and record the class. I either use my ipod or turn on my laptop mic. that way I can just pay attention later. Also consider the work load you will take on when you transfer. My new school is toooooo demanding. I dropped 1 course and still have no free time. right at the end of march and start of april, I had 19 tests and quizzes to complete in 2wks, on top of doing hw/cw on time. I know my grades dropped in some classes because of this. I’d never taken that many tests before in such a short period of time. And these weren’t even the hard classes. If you know for sure you want to leave, make sure that you at least take a campus tour and talk to teachers and students or see if you can sit in a class there.

    2. It is completely normal to feel like you don’t fit in at college. Ask any Junior or Senior and they more than likely will tell you that the biggest thing for them when they first got to college was feeling like they didn’t fit in. I know it can be extremely hard to meet people at college especially when there is so little time to do anything aside from homework. Ask others what helped them to overcome that barrier. Is that the only barrier? Will you feel the same way at a community college or other four year university? You can also research ways to overcome this so you can be better prepared to overcome this obstacle in the future if you decide to continue at this university or head on to another university.

    3. Hi! I’m in a similar situation to you and I’m thinking about taking a semester off. What did you end up doing and how did it work for you???

    4. Sarah, go to a community college and do your gen-eds. It will give you a chance to think about life while getting the B.S. out of the way before you decide what you really want to do.

    5. I’m in the same position. I’m a freshmen in my third semester (Freshmen take 3 semesters at my school). I have taken 8 total classes in 2 semesters & need to retake 3 of them (currently retaking one right now for my summer semester). All my classes have been so boring, I haven’t learned anything, my professor have all acted like they hate the students (except 2 of them were really nice), & my college won’t let me take my major classes until I finish the school basics (Math, Science, English, etc). I don’t talk to a lot of my friends anymore & struggle to make any at school as everyone in classes are all a LOT older than me. My dad & my best friend think it’s a good idea but my mom doesn’t. I just applied for a position at a local magazine for another college (Yes they let me apply even though I don’t go there to help get the experience & it’s the college I will end up transferring to), I’m going to apply for a position at the local hospital, & apply for a job. I feel like taking off a semester will do a lot for my happiness & motivate me so that I can push through the other basic classes I need to take.

  3. I’m considering taking a semester off for college. I just know my family will probably cut ties with me or remind me how much a failure I am. I’ve been so stresses out with school it caused me to be so depressed. I make decent grades but I seriously just need a break or I’m going to end killing myself. I have a job that I love and its what keeps me going. I work with children as well as the ederly and my goal is to obtain a degree to work with special needs. Unfortunately my school doesn’t offer a degree for that. So I’m considering transferring, finding something online, or maybe taking one of two courses. I really just want to finish up and be done then maybe my family will actually tell me they are proud of me. But at this rate I don’t think I can

    1. 4 years later, where are you now ? I’m really interested in knowing because as of right now, my oldest brother, who almost stand as a father figure in my life, is full of disappointment. He got so angry at me , screaming at my stupidity for thinking such things. I want this semester off but I don’t know if it’s worth it. Did you transfer? What happened?

  4. I got a lot of attention for taking a semester (ish) off. I “dropped out” of film school, started a blog, and that wound up getting some media attention for such. And yes, I got a lot of “I’m just worried you won’t go back…” from friends and family. I feel like I got it double, because my brother left school a few years earlier, with one semester left to go, and didn’t go back. So there was a precedent in my family, and it made everyone look at me under an extra level of scrutiny.

    A few things worth noting:

    1) I had trouble finding a job. After I took my Leave of Absence (which is the best way to do it, if your school has such a thing, since you can prevent losing scholarships and grants this way), I applied for lots of jobs. But my family lived somewhat in the middle-of-nowhere in a Rust Belt city that was (and is now still) more economically depressed than other places. So despite having work experience and half a college degree, I never even got a call back from any of the entry-level or retail jobs I put in an application at. Eventually I managed to start making money online, from my own blog and doing some virtual-assistant type work. But it was not the boon to my finances that I had been planning on.

    2) It did, however, give me the time and distance to figure out my feelings on my major (film). I worked with the Multidisciplinary Studies department at my school to find a way to come back that wouldn’t lose me any credits by starting over in a new major (film, and most art credits in general, don’t transfer – not even within the same university, and especially not to another). Having left school in December, I was able to go back to the same school in September, and graduated a year and a half later – completely on-time for the amount of time I took off.

    3) My degree has only marginally helped me in my career since then. (I graduated in 2009.) Surprisingly, the blog I started when I dropped out still helps me in job interviews to this day. Every single job interview I’ve ever gone on has asked me about my personal finance blog. It helped me get a consulting position out of school that turned into full-time work, and then a promotion (all within a year), which kickstarted my whole career. Of course, I’m certain that having the piece-of-paper degree thing was a factor in all of this, too… but only as a checkbox on each employer’s list. My personal project has always been far more interesting to employers than the fact that I took business and marketing classes… even when I was applying for marketing jobs!

    1. So awesome to hear from you! I remember reading your blog back in 2008. I was recently wondering if you were still around. What else is new with you?

      1. I’m still around! Somewhat. 😉 Got laid off from my “dream job,” got married, had a few jobs that didn’t work out (including becoming a licensed Investment Adviser Representative for a short time last year), ended up with one freelance gig last year that’s turned into a full-time plus side hustles for both me and my husband. In other words: a whirlwind that basically explains why I haven’t had time to write. Hoping that I’ll be able to get back to updating the internet on my crazy adventures, and dipping into personal finance suggestions… soon. 😀

  5. I’m currently in my first semester at Winthrop university and I have to say it really sucks. I only came here to begin with because my art teacher suggested it to me since it has a respectable art program. Since I had no idea what to do with my life, and still don’t, I went along with it and come here. The first semester is almost over and I am now completely certain that art is not my thing. I do really well in my classes and have had a few pieces in shows, but the constant anxiety that goes along with trying ti find something after college with a fine arts degree finally won. I also lost my passion and interest in the subject.

    I’m now looking into integrated marketing communications but I’m extremely stressed out about making the wrong decision again and wasting another semester.

    I keep blaming the school for making me hate it here but I can’t help but think that I’m just too stressed out to really enjoy anything here. I also don’t like drinking or partying so it’s been difficult to make a friend group. I’m really considering taking a semester off or even transferring to a different school but I’m so afraid of being left behind and losing my scholarships.

    I’m basically only making it by with loans right now so making money during my time off would help too. I’m aware of how difficult it is for freshmen to adjust to college and that a lot of them go through some kind a depression during that time, so I’m not sure if that’s why it’s been so difficult. If that’s the case then maybe things will get better later on?

    I’m so torn between toughing it out just to get through it (because i really hate college right now) or if I should look at other options.

  6. I have contemplated taking a semester off for a while now. I go to a commuter college in central Arkansas and I have had non-stop stress. I attended a smaller school last fall (2014) and loved it but the stress of handling everything on your own gets to me. I have no siblings to talk to and so I have to reach out to all my adult friends and see what they say. I have let myself and my parents down because I’m not putting enough effort in school because of my anxiety and I don’t have any friends to talk to that are just like me. I’m going to school to meet with my registrar and a person from my field of study. College might not be my thing. Does anyone have any great advice for someone who needs to find motivation? Thanks and Happy 2016!

    1. Thanks for reaching out Jared. You might just be studying the wrong program. If you can’t bring yourself to study or have to find motivation, it may be time to switch fields. Better now than 20 years from now.

    2. College isn’t for everyone Jared. Please share an update with us. You didn’t let anyone down. It’s your life and you have to do what’s best for you.

      1. Update: I decided to take the semester off and work a lot more. I’m taking this time to find my passion and my future and I hope that I continue to follow the right path.

            1. Update: I start prereqs for nursing school in 1 week!! I have been working hard since January and i am so happy that i have decided to pursue nursing and my family and girlfriend are behind me 100%.

                1. It has been so much better. I have only one more semester after this until I start nursing school at a huge medical university here in town. I have also gained a new best friend over the summer, he has been there for me through a lot. I appreciate what he has done in my life. He took an entire year off and worked like I did but he has started school once again with a new fresh mind like me.

  7. I have always been a passionate person that makes decisions based off of how it feels to me — as some have put it, I am “a feeler”. This past semester my heart was not in it anymore and I stopped studying or trying as hard as I use to do. I went to several people for help (adults included) and received both negative and positive feedback. This is a rather extensive reply, so please skip to the summary section if you are not interested in the rest:).

    A LITTLE BACKGROUND:
    I was constantly stressed and felt like I could not function. In secret, I started counseling — I have A LOT of covered up emotions and experiences (a few different types of abuses and also lost my father) that most of my family and friends do not know about excluding my father’s passing. I always have to pretend to be happy and please everyone else while knowing that I feel things differently from my experiences. I do not want sympathy, rather, I just want understanding and for people to back off and let me be my own person for once instead of always keeping other people’s secrets to protect them and please everybody else.
    I am only saying this because it feels relevant, but the issue is not that I am academically incapable of continuing with college– I graduated High School with honors and received an academic scholarship, which I used to complete 60 credit hours. I am a semester ahead with a 4.0 GPA. I am not the type to brag, but I believe this is important because it shows that I have the potential to keep going (not that anyone below that does not). I have always loved learning and always read my textbooks and finished all of my assignments on time. I have been called a life-long learner and I firmly believe that this is indeed true. The problem is, I have five other siblings; four of them are graduated. One is in her last year or law school, two are enjoying successful careers in finances and business, and the other took a year off from college. The one who took time off keeps telling me what a bad idea it was for her to do that. While she did go back and earn her bachelors in speech pathology with a 3.98 GPA, she did not end up finishing grad school. This makes her degree useless in her mind. She did this almost seven years ago and still harbors a lot of resentment for doing it. She feels like she does not fit in with my paternal side of the family because she does not have what they would consider a “successful career”. All ten of my aunts and uncles on my father’s side of the family went to college and earned bachelors degree or beyond and now have very fruitful careers. Some of them are teachers and professors, my dad included. They often use my father as a pawn to manipulate our way of thinking to do what they say he would have wanted for us.
    Along with all of this, since my father was a teacher, we receive aid from the STRS (State Teachers Retirement System). These benefits pay for my insurance as long as I am under 22 and in school. Taking time off from my studies disqualifies me from the services. With six children, my mom is not fond of the idea of losing additional income (even though she only has one child in the house now and is not financially struggling).
    Many people argue that taking time off is not in my best interest because I might not go back and I would lose a lot of aid if I did decide to go back later on.
    Presently, I have not taken any loans out as a result of my scholarship and financial aid.
    The thought of staying in college any longer depresses me and makes me feel trapped. Within the last eight months, I have started taking antidepressants for my anxiety and depression. About a month ago, I started scratching myself (I did not consider it deep enough to be considered cutting). Gradually, the depth of these scratches has increased to the point of cutting. I also have frequent thoughts of suicide and know how reckless I am being right now (please save the rants on how selfish you think I am being and that all of this is for attention). No one knows about it; I keep everything hidden and keep my composure so it seems like everything is completely fine and normal. I do not do things for attention, I have become a rather emotionless person inside for keeping everything bottled up inside. Yet, I am still a very empathetic person and am always there for people who need me. This is what makes it so difficult for me to want to go off and try something different and on my own — I want to keep my friends and family happy and satisfied.

    SUMMARY:
    I withdrew from this semester nearly six weeks ago. No one in my family knows and I have only confided in a few of my closest friends. I am traveling to the U.K to visit one of my friends studying abroad. She thinks some time away from everything else is just what I need right now. I am very worried about how my family will react to my situation. I do not know when I intend to go back to college, or if that is what is best for me in my current situation. I am motivated to do and explore other things outside of school, but I felt trapped and hopeless my last semester that I was enrolled. I would like to take this time to think and do things for myself. I am very fond of volunteering and am not afraid of holding multiple jobs down at once — I currently have three part time/temporary positions. If I do what I actually want to do, I will volunteer and work abroad through several different programs that I have extensively researched. I think that my experience would benefit me and educate me in ways that college has not been able to do so far. I am so torn between so many obligations and feelings.

  8. It’s the first day of school college and I felt I was walking into nothing, unprepared and undecided what I want to do in my life. Since 10th grade I felt really stressed out for the smallest things. Then junior year came around and I did something that I will reject for the rest of my life, I tried to take my own life it was all the stressed. I knew I wanted to take a semester or a year off school but the problem was my parents. Older sister got pregnant and took a break off college. So I didn’t want the same thing but I feel that for me physically and mentally it would be good for me to take a semester off and work and really try to find myself

  9. I am considering of withdrawing from my current college next semester, because I need a break. Just thinking about school gives me immense stress. It’s also taken a toll on my physical and mental health. I would like to take the time off to find out what I really want. I’ve breezed through high school mindlessly, doing what I was “supposed to do” (getting good grades and volunteering). But, what has that done? My high school years went to a waste. I hated those years. I didn’t make any meaningful friendships that I’ve carried on over to college, nor did I find out what I want to do in the future. Because I spent my time building up my academic portfolio for college admissions, I never had time to figure out myself (who am I? what do I want to do for the rest of my life? what’s my passion? what do I like? what don’t I like?) nor did I make time to pick up a hobby. I don’t want my college years to be another extension of my high school years–an aimless road towards an unhappy and uncertain future. Life’s too short to dedicate my time to things that don’t make me happy.

    In addition to discovering myself, I would like to use the time off to get a job and earn some money. Even though I’m not drowning in tuition debt, some extra money would be nice. I’m not going to go back to my current college though, because it doesn’t even have the major I want (which is Linguistics). I plan on transferring to another college for the Fall 2017 semester, so I can pursue my intended major. Even if I decide not to pursue Linguistics there, the college offers other majors I would be interested in. So, that’s my current plan. Whether I go through with it, we’ll see…

    1. This comment seems almost as if I wrote it, because it’s exactly how I feel, plus there’s family problems on top of that. I feel like taking this semester off will really help me get on track and clear my head. I’ve been having doubts and unhealthy thoughts lately, which do not help me focus on my schoolwork.

  10. My Story:
    Straight out of high school I went to the 4 year university in my home town. I claimed my major as a pre-occupational therapy student. Boy did I work my butt off for the entire first year. In fact I didn’t even stop for a break. My first semester as a student I took 13 credits, worked part-time, and lived at home with mom and dad, it wasn’t all that bad. Until my past started knocking on my door and I was trying to ignore it. All of a sudden because I was 18 my real dad wanted to enter my life. Which pissed off my step-dad and mother. They hate me for getting to know him, but of course I wanted to, because my step-father who everyone thinks I should bow down to for raising me, yea that is the same man that molested me, but none of my family knows….. So onto the second semester I took on 16 credits, and worked 3 different jobs that had me working 7 days a week. That is when it all went really bad. To add into the mix I hadn’t made any friends at school and my boyfriend starting shutting me out of his life. At that point I wasn’t questioning my major but I was definitely feeling anxious, depression, mood changes, and I could not sleep at night, I had insomnia. My GPA suffered a little from that semester. Okay now going on to summer. Summer 1 I did not take any classes, however I did have to drive an hour away (to the hometown my now ex boyfriend was living in) every single Monday for volunteer and job shadowing hours towards my major. (Literally the facility was right around the corner from his house and I had to pass it.) This is when I was working even more hours and my boyfriend had dumped me…. Move onto summer 2, I took on two classes that filled up my time along with working 40 plus hours a week. When it was time to think about fall semester for this year (right now) I was freaking out. I wanted to change my major completely. I wanted something more passionate, and quite frankly not as damn hard. I changed my classes at least 5 different times, I failed my first exams, I was even able to drop to part time, and it wasn’t good enough. I burned out completely and I took a leap of courage and I with drawled from my classes. It was so scary and it still is. I am trying to figure out my life, switch jobs, move out of my stupid parents house, and figure out what I like to do. Although I am more stress free I am still overwhelmed because I know I want to go back to school, but I cannot seem to narrow my preferences enough.

  11. I am stem field major, Biochem and minors in physics and math, I have two associates degrees so far and am going for my bachelors/masters. And I love it. I am fascinated by my prospective field and the ones that branch from it. However, the past year and a half has been one handful of battles after another in my personal life, and though I know what I want to do with my education and how far I want to go, I am so stressed out that I’m failing my classes.

    The job market has not been very kind to me where I live. I had a really bad proffessor last semseter that literally would not teach us what we needed to know for tests (I found out later it was because of his own personal issues) but failing his class messed up my status (As well as the majority of the rest of the class) since I dont have a lot of hours at the college (at least thats what i was told-but Ive been told a lot of things by the administration that later one was revoked as if I was hearing voices or something). So I’ve been trying hard to get better this semester to get out of the clear, I am and have been on my own (no mommy or daddy to help me with college) and this semester finally burned me out. I don’t want to deal with the classes, I keep forgetting or mixing up times with homework assignments and things due, I don’t sleep because I’m thinking about everything I have to do all the time. There was even a couple weeks where I just couldnt get up- I had never felt depression like that ever. I cant go a few days with out a cigarette. It seems like no matter how much I study, i do poorly on the tests-even when I KNOW this stuff. And I’ve had to deal with the Veterans association and they are a complete nightmare! they screwed my paperwork so badly that even the representatives Ive spoken to have no words as to how it could have happened. they are constantly on my back.
    The summer is coming up and I am glad, though I am confident that I will fail my classes. I feel terrible about failing (getting a C on a test is like a blow to the chest in general) and I’ve worked really hard just for the opportunity to go to school. Out of highschool, I had won a scholarship because of my grades but it was suddenly taken away because “they werent doing that anymore”…. after I had recieved the certificate, graduated, and was siging up for college classes.

    Life is destroying me right now and until i have things become more stable, I don’t think I can focus on school. the stress and expectations I have for myself sometimes make me fantasize about standing in front of a train-foolish, not going to do it, but imagine feeling that so often that you dare not make a joke for it sounding too bad… I just worry what kind of problems will arise if I do decide to take a semester off from school. I am going to talk with my advisor in a couple days, and I’m hoping to hear that I am not as pathetic as I feel after these past two semesters. I know I need to take a breather from school but i still feel terrible about it.

  12. It’s reassuring to read through many of these comments and know that I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed with school. I went to college because that’s just the thing everyone is expected to do. I went to this community college in town which pretty much pays for itself, but the classes I’m going through are mind-numbingly hard. I have never felt so dumb before in my life. I’ve always felt like whatever the obstacle is I can overcome it, but these past two semesters have beaten me to a pulp and I feel like I’m crawling to the finish line (and to top that, it’s only been the first year! I wanted to get my bachelors in high school, I don’t know what I’m going to do now).

    I picked Graphic Design because of the simple fact that I love computers and want to be good at art, but so far it’s about killed me. The only class I’ve actually enjoyed this entire year was the Adobe class working with Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc. because that’s specifically what I wanted to be a professional at and am interested in. There’s a lot more to it of course, and I’m not good at hands-on art. I’m just so burnt out, and my anxiety has gotten extremely bad to the point where I’m having panic attacks on a more regular basis.

    I hate failing, I hate my parents disappointment, I hate feeling like I’m not good at anything. I’m so nervous to take a semester off but I feel like it’s almost necessary for me now because I’m so unhappy with everything I’m doing. I really hope I can figure this all out soon.

  13. Im in my junior year of college. I should actually be graduating in the spring but I’ve changed my major 3 times and had to start over each time. Im finally down to only needing my major classes, but when it’s all said and done it will take me 6 years to get my bachelors degree even if I decide to take next semester off to work. I can only take 2 classes next semester because the rest of the classes require a certain Prereq class that is only available in the fall so I can’t even take any of my major classes til next fall and after next year (the 2018-2019 school year) I will only have 3 classes left to take in the 2019-2020 school year so I would be able to take the 2 classes i need for next semester during that time. Im seriously pissed at myself and embarrassed that it’s going to take 6 years before I get a 4 year degree. The only reason I went to college straight out of high school was because I thought taking time off to figure out what I wanted to do would make my dad mad. Now, I’ve wasted so much time and money on figuring out what I wanted to do, I finally decided what I want to do, and im so anxious about the amount of time it’s going to take to actually finish out my degree. I want to take the Spring 2018 semester off to pay off some of my loans, take time for myself, and decide if I really want to spend the next 2 years of my life working on a degree that I should have already completed. So far for me college has been nothing but stress, depression, break downs, and feeling so alone. I just need a break from it all…

  14. I am currently a freshmen in college and I just want to get out. For most of my life (up until my junior year of high school), I was very motivated to study and do my work and I didn’t absolutely hate school. I lost my drive/motivation during my junior year. I still did some work, but not nearly as much and I really started to loathe coming to class. I kept my grades slightly up, graduated with a 3.9 (with 8 AP courses) and I am now at University of Georgia. I had one EXTREME panic attack over college halfway through senior year. I was lying in bed one night and it just hit me that my entire life was about to change and all I could see was darkness and despair. The panic got so bad that I truly thought I was going to die. I begged my mom to take me to the hospital and it took about 30 minutes for me to calm down. Since then, I have had an on-off struggle with depression and anxiety. I was TERRIFIED of going to college. I forced myself not to think about it all through my last semester of high school. Even when I began to get over the fear, I never really felt the ‘excitement’ that everyone else around me did. I had great friends at home and a job that I absolutely LOVED so I just didn’t wanna leave. For the most part, I kept these feelings to myself. Surprisingly, once I got to college I didn’t have a panic attack on my first night even though I completely expected to. For the first few months, it was fine. I was briefly homesick, but nothing horrible and I got over it quickly. But now, I am really having trouble. I have only made 3 friends and I am not in a sorority/fraternity, and I live in the most antisocial dorm on campus. A lot of strange, illegal things have happened (police have had to get involved) and there is mold all over our room, which has made my roommate and I sick. I feel really lonely and it has slowly began to eat me away. My best friends are at different colleges or at home and my boyfriend is also at home. I’m used to having a lot of people around me. I don’t make friends easily and I really have tried. This is a huge university and I just feel really out of place. I had another (milder) panic attack last week which turned into a terrible depression the next day. Being around people/going to classes didn’t help or distract me and I actually had to leave during my last class because I couldn’t hold in the tears. I called my mom, who I am very close with, and she told me to come home for a night so I could talk about it (I only live an hour away). Since then, I have seen a lot of my friends/boyfriend and I feel a lot better. But now that I am back, I am realizing that college isn’t my thing. I don’t necessarily enjoy the social aspect of it and I dont feel like this is the right place to deal with my mental health. I’m not sure what I should do because I dont want to seem weak or like a failure.

  15. How are you both doing, Bonnie and Torri? I am a mother of a 2nd semester sophomore who is unhappy at school and I would love to hear how your last year has been.

    My son just transferred to a new school and didnt have time to attend orientation and likely is not inyerested in figurinf out how to navigate the new school. He was majorly depressed his first semester 🙁 and didnt tell anyone. Thankfully the school offered a program the 2nd semester to students who did really poorly academically. He then did better. And slightly better his 3rd semester but there was lots of drama….Lots and lots with his suite mates, drugs and more depression. He has no clue what he actually wants to do and i fear that the lack if academic momentum will stop his progress toward a degree.

    I want to encourage self discovery and think about what he wants but what jobs will help him decide? Will he lose insurance? How will he know? Is trade school better?

    What doesnt help is that his dad doesn’t want to help pay for college and keeps telling him that he should stop going to college until he figures out what he wants. I am concered and feel sad for him as I know he feels lost but I’m not convinced that taking a semester off would help him figure that out.

  16. Just wondering if you know of any recent published literature on this topic? Specifically, I am looking for data on students who return and what supports they need to return. I am in the process of designing a study and can’t find much of anything….so I went gooogling!

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