Swanson: In Defense of Taking A Semester Off

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By Gavin Swanson, Opinion Writer

Welcome back, fellow students. For most of us, it seems a bit jarring that we’re even starting the spring semester since it feels like we just recovered from the hurt we received from fall semester. For some, like me, they probably haven’t fully recovered yet. Nonetheless, it’s back to renting textbooks we won’t read and attending lectures we’ll find reasons to skip in the future. Actually, I barely made the cut for this semester due to some holds that weren’t resolved. Until this week I was facing the very real possibility that I wouldn’t be able to register for this semester. It was a really scary thought that I couldn’t accept until my roommate approached me and told me that he was taking spring 2018 off.

When I asked why he said it was simply because of too much stress and that he wants to live a couple of months just working and coming home without having to worry about anything else. It was a lifestyle I hadn’t even considered before this conversation. College has been the end goal for me ever since middle school. To not come home and worry about future projects, assignments, readings, etc.  to pass the semester never seemed like an option. For all of us who have been dedicated to schooling for the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve never known an extended period of time where we weren’t somehow fixated on our education.

Over the break, while I was concerned about my registration holds and how I would be able to enroll for another set of months of stress and anxiety, my roommate began to embrace his new lifestyle. He quit his job at the university and took up two part-time jobs close to home. He goes to one job to work a normal part-time shift and the other on occasion. When he’s finished, he comes home to do whatever he wants. He doesn’t need to reserve time to study or to take notes — he can just come home, grab a drink and play video games. It made me think that taking the semester off myself wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I was watching a man who excelled at school at both the high school and university level give that up for a simpler life where coming home at the end of the day meant he could just relax, or dedicate his hours to non-academic passions.

I spent a lot of time thinking about it over the break, and eventually, I came to the conclusion that the gap semester wasn’t for me. Taking a break from school did mean taking a break from the pressure of higher education for a bit, but it also meant abandoning the commitments I made at the U like with The Chronicle and with friends in other organizations. It also meant not working towards my future goals and my passions which are my primary motivators in pushing me through the obstacles blocking a life with a college degree. I knew a living without that would make me miserable, even if it was only for a little bit.

So taking a break is definitely not for everybody. I’m not saying that if you’re feeling a little stressed about your schooling, you should drop it all and work 40 hours a week instead. However, if you do feel like you need a break to save some money and do other things, you shouldn’t be afraid to take time off. In the end, it’s all about what helps lead you to a happy life. I don’t think anybody who understands is really going to blame you for taking a couple of months off from worrying about how you’re going to pay tuition, going through many sleepless nights worried about upcoming exams and grades.

As our 2018 academics begin, I wish you the best of luck. Remember to make time for yourself and that probably no grade is worth sacrificing your own well-being long term.

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@TheChrony