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The 5 Best Reasons to Take a Break From School

Jun 26, 2019

Taking a break from college can feel a bit like stepping off a cliff, but there are legitimate reasons to leave school. Here are five reasons why students need breaks from higher education and advice on how to take a semester break from college.

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1. Taking a Break from School Can Give You a Real-World Education

Book learning might be critically important for your chosen career, but oftentimes, there are lessons to be learned outside the classroom. And, these lessons can sometimes be more vital to achieving your goals than anything you'll learn from a professor. Seeing the world can open your eyes and your mind. Volunteering can offer a new perspective on your place in the world. Working a real job can build a strong character. Meeting new people might help you understand what you want to do.

2. You Can Refresh Your Drive

When the homework piles up and the classes become overwhelming, it can be easy to lose sight of the passion that led you down this path in the first place. Taking a break from school can give you the time you need to rethink your goals, process your thoughts and rediscover your drive. If this is your reasoning for hitting the pause button, it's important to treat your time off with respect. Practice self-love; use this time to genuinely examine your goals, understand why you're doing what you're doing and focus on activities that renew your spirit.

3. A Break from School Can Save You Money

For many students, the cost of college can be the number one reason to take a break from school. Tuition, fees, room, board and all the little expenses of college life can drain a bank account pretty fast, and sometimes taking a semester off college to work is a must. Here's one thing to keep in mind - many students get too comfortable in their new jobs or spend the money they're bringing in. Make sure to set financial goals if this is your reason for taking a break from school.

4. You Can Maintain Your Mental Health

It's not uncommon for students to develop psychological disorders from the stresses of college. Substance abuse, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy affect college students all the time, and they can stick around into adulthood. Many students are afraid to ask for help or too busy to understand what's happening. If the burnout is taking a toll on your mental health, it might be time to take a step back and get into the right frame of mind. Find counseling, speak with loved ones and remember: Don't worry about what other people are doing or what you think you SHOULD be doing; do the right thing for your health and well-being.

5. You Can Pursue More Fanciful Dreams

Maybe you feel you might have a future as a singer-songwriter. Maybe you've always wanted to learn how to make a video game. Or, maybe a self-study of creative writing in preparation to write the great American novel has always been on your dream board. Whatever it is, students often dismiss and defer these dreams as pie-in-the-sky, pursuing more logical paths and always wondering if they could have ''made it.'' Taking a gap year (or gap semester) gives some students the chance to explore those dreams. Think institutions of higher learning frown on this type of exploration? Not so much - even Harvard encourages students to take time to travel, work or take on other types of meaningful activities and projects.

How to Take a Break from College

As we've touched on briefly, these suggestions are great reasons to leave school, but they can also be double-edged swords. Plenty of students have left school only to look back with regret. Here are three ways to make sure your time off doesn't get derailed:

  • Be clear about your motivations and stick to them. If your goal is to pursue another dream, make sure you're actually using your time wisely to work toward that goal.
  • Set a time limit. Don't leave your break open-ended; give yourself a finite amount of time before returning to school.
  • Find people to hold you accountable. Surround yourself with friends, family members and advisors who will help you stay on your path.
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