The benefits of taking a semester off

July 03, 2017
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When we first start uni, we all assume we’ll be here for three years and then be off again to make our mark in the world. But things don’t always work out the way we planned, and sometimes a three year degree can end up taking a little bit extra time because of a semester long break in the middle. And that’s OK, sometimes a break can do more good for us than consecutive semesters ever could. To prove it, here’s just a handful of benefits of taking that break semester.

You can recover your mental health

Uni isn’t a sprint, it’s more like a marathon, and not all of us are in the right headspace to run the whole thing at once. The constant assignments, the stress of exams and the pressure placed on us can be a bit much some days, and it’s completely OK to just say “enough”.

Taking a break midway through can give you more energy for the semesters afterwards, and leave you feeling more prepared for the world when you graduate, instead of a burnt-out frazzled mess.

You can figure out what you actually want to do

Sometimes going through each semester, we can lose track of the reason we’re there in first place. And then sometimes, when we remember, the reason doesn’t even matter anymore.

Giving yourself a breather for the semester can be a breath of fresh air, and instead of racking up even more student debt, you can work out whether your course is the right for you at this point in time.

You can get some savings going

While you’re working things out, it can’t hurt to do a little bit of paid work too. Taking a seasonal job, or picking up more hours at the one you’ve already got can make a massive difference to setting up your finances. Before you know it, you’ll go from living on noodles and transferring $4 for a cup of coffee, to actually having a savings account. That is, until you start back at uni and you have to fork it all out for textbooks.

You can diversify your skills

When you’re doing a degree in a highly specialised area, it can begin to feel like that’s all you know. So, if you take a bit of time out, it can give you the opportunity to expand your skills a little bit with your extra free time. Online courses are always amazing at teaching a range of skills quickly, and teaching yourself skills through YouTube is a fantastic brain exercise. Before you know it, you’ll be that nurse who can also code, or a lawyer who can knit.

Not only that, but it looks way better on a resume to show that you have other interests, or skills, than it does to say you completed your degree in three years.

You can travel

Uni is great and all, but there’s no better way to open your brain then to travel. Taking in a new culture and getting lost in it, both literally and figuratively, can push you to your limits in a way that an essay never can.

Even if your limited funds only allow interstate travel, nothing says challenge yourself quite like having to sort out flights, accommodation and that pesky hotel bond no one quite manages to successfully budget for.

Anne Rathbone

Anne is a law student at Flinders University, who spends way too much time with her cat and not enough with actual humans.