How To Successfully Take A Semester Off Before College

By the time I was close to high school graduation, the last thing I wanted to think about was going to college. Not because I hadn’t applied (I had) or because I didn’t get in (I did) or because I was nervous or afraid (I wasn’t), but because I was exhausted. After spending the last 12 years of my life in a classroom, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted less than to embark on another four years of learning.

Over the years I’ve realized these are feelings that many high school seniors have near the end of their high school career. The truth is they just want to rest, and the two months of summer vacation before college just don’t seem like enough. This is the point at which students start to consider taking a semester off, and everyone around them freaks out as soon as they hear it.

The main problem with taking a semester off before starting college, and the reason why everyone panics when you suggest it, is that many students simply never end up going back to school. Therefore, the key to successfully taking time off is to plan everything so that you will go back.

Graduate early

I graduated high school in December when the winter semester ended. By then, I had all my credits and if I’d stayed, I would have been in P.E. and pottery classes for my last semester. Instead, I left in December and although I started college in August along with everyone else, I’d had eight months of rest! I was totally ready to learn.

Many high schools around the country offer early graduation to eligible students, and it’s worth finding out if yours does. You should figure it out during your junior year so that when it’s time to pick classes for senior year, you have everything worked out with your counselor.

Act as if you’re not taking time off 

If you decide to do a full senior year and take off the fall semester of college, it might seem like you don’t have to care about applying to schools or your SAT scores or any of the things everyone else is bothering with. However, it should be just the opposite; because you’re starting a semester late, you should keep yourself focused on ultimately going to school. The best way to do this is to watch what your friends do, work on a few admissions essay ideas, and gather as much information as you can about the application process.

Remember, since you’re going to be applying to school after high school graduation, you won’t have your guidance counselor to help you every step of the way so, find out as much as you can before you leave.

Have a set plan

It’s easy to get used to a life of leisure when you take so much time off school, and if you want to be sure you’ll go back, you need to have a plan. Find out the deadlines for university applications and admission essays and map out when you’ll start working on them.

This is a vital lesson in the importance of personal responsibility. Since there will be no more teachers or school administrators nagging you through the process, you have to learn to motivate and discipline yourself.

Get help

Personal responsibility is very important, but having the support of your friends and family is an even greater help. Although you shouldn’t rely on your parents to remind you when to do things, it’s great if they’re there to push you when you’re feeling particularly lazy. Find a few people who you feel you can count on and tell them about your plans; ask them to help you if you start to slack and to check on you once in a while to make sure you’re on track.

This would also be a good time to ask your friends who have already been through the college admissions process for help; they’ll be able to give you information that a university website can’t.

Taking a semester off from school is not the kiss of death that so many people make you think it is. Yes, many students end up never going back to school, but that doesn’t have to be you. If you truly want to go to college but you simply need a little bit of time to rest and regroup, taking a break can be a great option. As long as you have a plan and you stick to it, things will work out.

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Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza is a senior at Florida Atlantic University pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Although reading is her first love, writing is a close second and she can usually be found with her nose in a book or hunched over a laptop typing away. Outside of school and work, she’s interested in all things fitness as well as continuing to grow an already massive nail polish collection.

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