Taking a Break From College and University: Pros and Cons

By Karen Palmer on August 2022
Category: College Life

a girl sitting next to her bike

“Should I take a break – maybe a semester or a year off?” This is a quite common thought that comes to mind of many students around the globe. Some think of taking a break because they can’t handle stress and need some time to reboot, others just want to understand if they actually do the right career choice. But either way, everyone who is considering taking a break would love to know if they are not making a huge mistake. So, here are the pros and cons of taking a break from college or university.

Can I Take a Break From College or University?

First of all, let’s find out if that is at least a possible scenario. Not every college or university has this information on their website, so you might want to talk to your academic counselor or dean about the possibility of taking a break and how the procedure goes.

The majority of colleges limit the time you can be on a break – no more than a year or two. Some might give you an opportunity to take a semester off while others will make you take a full year and resume your studying with another group. 

In general, almost every college and university allow breaks but some might want you to give them a valid reason for doing so. As you can tell, the answer “I just want to get rest from classes” is not one. So, make sure you are ready for a conversation about what your plans for the break are and what awaits you when you come back – exams, additional courses, etc.

Pros of Taking a Break

Like with other choices, the decision about taking a break or not has two sides to it. The positive side might include:

The opportunity to pause and reflect

Reflecting on your life, major and career choices, interests, skills, relationships, bonds, and other crucial things is highly important for everyone. It helps us learn our lessons and grow. Sometimes it’s not only about the right emotional place but also about the change in our life that makes us come up with the right conclusion and listen to our inner voice.

So, the change that comes with the break from studies can give you and teach you a lot. Some students realize what they really want to do with their lives exactly during their break. So, if you feel like there is too much going on and you need to take a pause and sort things out, taking a break is the right choice.

The opportunity to build your resume

Many students take a break in order to get their first full-time job and build their first resume, get contacts, and try themselves in a real work environment. The financial side to this also sometimes makes the decision for you as it is a vital component.

If you decide that you want to start your career in the chosen field during your break, make sure you don’t waste your time as the moment when you need to go back to your studies always comes faster than you think. At that moment you will need to be able to work distantly or get a flexible schedule if you don’t want to lose your progress.

You can also take your time to try yourself in various fields to understand what is your dream job and if it is the way you imagine it to be.

The opportunity to be with your family

Taking a break means having more spare time which you can spend with your family or friends. It’s a common thing among the students to take a break because of family matters. Sicknesses, divorces, childbirth, and other reasons might be the core of a decision to take a break. In such a case, it’s better to take a break and make sure you are with your family.

The opportunity to learn something new

You might be sick of studying but learning is a process that never ends. And if you have some spare time, make sure you don’t waste it. Try learning something new like a new skill or new hobby. It will help you resume and your future life.

Cons of Taking a Break From College or University

While there are many pros to taking a break, you should also know about the cons of such a decision. And while there are only two of them they are pretty serious.

Missing your friends

If you have many friends in your study group, you will definitely miss them a lot during your break. It might also happen so that you will not have the same schedule after you resume your studying. It means the need to make new contacts and less time spent together.

Moreover, you will most likely face some difficulties with the whole student rhythm one more time. You will have to get used to all the exams, assignments, and stress all over again. Some might say it’s not that bad but there is a reason why so many students await the moment they are done with college life. And not everyone is ready to repeat this journey.

Falling behind

It might not matter to you now but graduating a year later can be quite a painful experience. Just be ready for the situation when your peers are graduating while you still have another year of lectures, essays, and studies. Time is precious and you would not want to waste it. 

Surely, it’s not like you are losing a year of your life, but it might go less productive than you think and become a regret of yours. So, be wise when you decide on whether it’s a good choice – a year in college might bring you more benefits than a year of job hunting. Make sure you have a solid plan or a valid reason – for example, you are too stressed to continue or need to be with your family.


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