Taking a semester off for mental health (A complete guide)

In this guide, we will talk about reasons for taking a semester off, signs that you need to notice in yourself and where you can seek help from for taking a semester off for mental health.

Reasons for taking a semester off for mental health

Here are some possible reasons for taking a semester off for mental health reasons:

  • You are unsure about college
  • You are feeling unprepared
  • Family problems
  • You are not liking the stressful environment
  • You are feeling overwhelmed

You are unsure about college

One of the reasons for taking a semester off for mental health can be to figure out about your college. You might need time to be sure about your decision. Taking time off to decide whether this is the right stream, subject and college for you is very important to help you decide and get a peace of mind. Not being sure about your subject can be very stressful and cause anxiety in any student. 

You are feeling unprepared

Another reason for taking a semester off for mental health is because you feel unprepared for college. School is quite easy as compared to college studies and many students have reported that they felt like their school hasn’t really prepared them for college life. The amount of self study increases substantially making it difficult for students to cope up. Plus the amount of knowledge they are expected to have before school at times catches students off guard. 

Family problems

Another reason for taking a semester off for mental health can be family problems. Students can sometimes not be able to manage the problems going on in their family and college studies. It becomes too overwhelming for them and starts to negatively affect their mental health. Some students drop out of college because they need to take care of their parents back home. Handling the pressure of both home and studies can be too much. 

You are not liking the stressful environment

College life can get you competitive quite fast. Students who have always been at the top of their class are now competing with other toppers. The competition can at times turn very hostile as people want to be the best. Because in college you are starting from a scratch and shushing to a new place on your own, it can be quite stressful. Making new friends can get tougher as you are meeting people from all over the country now, not just your known area. 

You are feeling overwhelmed

College can be too much sometimes and that can be quite overwhelming. You have an intensive study schedule plus trying to find time to socialise and joining extracurricular activities, internships, taking out time to take part in your hobbies and having an 8 hour sleep schedule can be challenging. It sometimes can be too much too soon. Right after school you do not have time to relax even a little bit and are pushed to study again, can feel like a mundane life where studying just doesn’t stop. 

Signs you should be taking a semester off for mental health

Here are some signs that show that you are in need of taking a semester off for mental health reasons:

  • You are socially withdrawing 
  • You are experiencing depression
  • You feel anxious all the time
  • Reliance on coffee or alcohol
  • Too many incomplete assignments

You are socially withdrawing 

Sign number one that you should be taking a semester off for mental health is that you find your leaf isolated and cut off from the world most of the time. You do not go out with friends or talk to people in class. You feel like being all by yourself and not interacting with anyone else. Even if you want to interact with others you feel too tired and socializing seems like an exhausting task that you just don’t have the time or energy to engage in. 

You are experiencing depression

It is important for you to be taking a semester off for mental health, if you are experiencing feelings of depression. Depression refers to prolonged feeling of sadness over a period, it includes signs of irritability, reduced energy levels, poor concentration and attention levels and disturbed appetite and sleep. In case you are experiencing these you should consider taking a time off from college and work on improving your mental health. 

You feel anxious all the time

Have you noticed yourself being anxious all the time about your studies, whether you will be able to cope up and meet the standard of your batchmates, or finishing assignments before the deadline. These thoughts make you feel on the edge then you need to realise that it is a sign that you need to be taking a semester off for mental health. You need to understand that feeling anxious all the time is not healthy for any individual and that it won’t just go away if you ignore it. 

Reliance on coffee or alcohol

If you have been relying on coffee or alcohol or any other similar substance to make it through each day you need to be taking a semester off for mental health. Addiction and reliance on these substances is not good for the physically as well as your mental health. It indicates that you are having trouble sleeping, waking up and most importantly being able to study properly. You can not be going through glasses after glasses of coffee or alcohol just to make it through the day and keep up with your peers. 

Too many incomplete assignments

The lack of complete assignments and missing of deadlines repeatedly means that you are not able to keep up with your studies. It also means that you need to be taking a semester off for mental health reasons. It is not that college is not for you or anything like that, it simply means that you need some time off college to be able to join back and give in your full potential. 

Seek help for taking a semester off for mental health

Here are some points that will help you in taking a semester off for mental health:

  • Reach out to your professors
  • Talk to the university counsellors
  • Understand what options you have
  • Form a plan
  • Focus on yourself

Reach out to your professors

If you are unsure about whether to be taking a semester off for mental health or not, reach out to your professors about it. Consult and see what your professors have to say and head their advice on the matter. They have seen countless students go through what you are going and can guide you as to how to go about it. They can advise you on how to manage your studies better so that you can be less stressed and improve your mental health. 

Talk to the university counsellors

Talk to your university counsellors about taking a semester off for mental health and seek their help about how you can drop a semester and then rejoin. Ask them about the college’s policies on doing that, the financial issues that might arise and how your personal loan will be affected. You can also consult with them about taking therapy to improve your mental health and most of the colleges do provide in house counsellors to help students deal with their problems, or you can seek outside help from mental health professionals

Understand what options you have

After seeking the university counsellors talk to your seniors and batch mates and see if they know someone who might have taken a semester off. Talk to them about their experience and how it turned out to be, if it was helpful or not. 

Form a plan

If you have decided on taking a semester off for mental health then plan what you are going to do in that semester break. What areas you want to work on and how you want to improve your mental health. Be sure of it and then go for it. 

Focus on yourself

If you are taking a semester off for mental health, make sure to focus on yourself and not what others say. It is your health and you need to do what is necessary to have a piece of mind. Engage in self care activities and pursue your hobbies. 

In this guide, we talked about reasons for taking a semester off, signs that you need to notice in yourself and where you can seek help from for taking a semester off for mental health.

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FAQs: Taking a semester off for mental health

Is taking a semester off from college bad?

Taking a semester off can actually help you recharge yourself and get back on your own terms. It provides you with time to recharge while not having any stress or expectations from school. It may prove relaxing and stress free for you.

Can I take a semester off from university?

Yes you can take a semester off from university. Like taking time before starting college you can also take time between college and definitely take a semester or year off during college. There are a lot of reasons why one can take a semester break. 

What happens if I take a semester off?

If you take a semester off it shouldnt have much effect on your federal loans. Most federal loans grant a grace period of 6 months. When you return back to college at least half time after taking the semester off, for your loan the grace period will reset unless you exceed the grace period limit. 

Is it OK to take a mental health day from college?

Yes, it is OK to take a mental health day from college. It will help decompress and to regroup your thoughts, feelings and that too without any stress or judgement. The judgement and gestation will reduce with more mental health awareness and you should take time off for yourself. Allowing to a day off from college is a form of self-care.

Is it hard to get into college after taking a year off?

If you are applying to colleges after your gap year is over, you might end up missing the next year too, leading to a 2 year gap period. This would make the transition a little difficult and make collection of transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendations that much more difficult. 

What happens if I withdraw from college?

If you withdraw from a course after the add or drop period has ended in your college, you will not be eligible for a tuition refund and will have to pay all outstanding balances to your college. There will be a W written in grade if you withdrew from the course. 

References

https://psychcentral.com/lib/when-to-take-time-out-from-college#2

https://www.mhanational.org/taking-leave-absence-what-you-need-know

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