Taking a Quarantine-Inspired Year Off v. Staying in School

The question of whether to continue going to school or not has frequently crossed my mind and the minds of other students I know, considering the uncertainty of the world’s current state. Whether the impetus be disliking online classes or not wanting to miss out on “the college experience” or other reasons, students are asking themselves whether the education system can serve their needs and wants.

In March, I was wondering if it would be worth my time to take a break from college, as classes might be online for quite some time. I love my major and the classes I have been taking, but I did not want my college experience to be staring at my laptop all day. I would much rather sit in a classroom with other students and an interesting professor at the front of the room. Before quarantine, I was just starting to break out of my shell and make friends. I really did not want to miss out on all the amazing people I could meet in person at Stony Brook. So I figured that it would be best to take some time off and focus on myself. After my year off, I would resume taking classes in person and not have to miss out on the classroom experience.

But as my time in quarantine progressed, I realized that it is uncertain how long it will be before college life can resume its normalcy, and it might take longer than the year I had planned to take off. And college life might not even necessarily go back to the way it was before. This could be a turning point for how students and professionals engage with each other. This is one of the reasons I decided to continue my education by taking not only fall and spring classes, but summer classes as well, so that I can graduate in the spring of 2021, whether the classes for the semesters are fully online or not. 

woman typing Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Summer courses often suggest taking time away from one’s summer activities or adding to the stress of a summer job or internship, but with the dangers of resuming work and social life, my internship has been suspended, and I will not be seeing my friends in person. I would rather stay home than risk getting myself or my family and friends sick. This opens up plenty of free time and the opportunity for me to take summer courses to prepare to graduate in the spring of 2021. I am not doing anything special over the summer, so I might as well take classes to advance the progress of my degree while I have the time to do so.

The summer classes will also allow me to impose some structure onto myself, as I will have to create a schedule to complete all my coursework. I will still have plenty of free time, as I will not be enrolled in a full course load like I am now, so I will be able to pursue my passion projects and hobbies. If I took a year or even just the summer off, it could be difficult to maintain motivation to stick to a productive routine, as the excessive time I would have would make it incredibly easy to procrastinate. 

Taking a year off is not the answer for me because I do not want to be stuck at the end of that year disappointed that life has not gone completely back to how it was before and not having a plan after that. I have no idea what the job market will look like in 2021, and I have no idea what it will look like if I were to graduate a year later, but I would much rather be looking for a job with a degree than having to look for a job without a degree. I would much rather adapt to online courses now so that I will be more prepared- and equipped with a degree- to adapt to the ever-evolving job market later. I am hoping that this will set myself up for success when seeking jobs related to my English degree. If it does not, then I will have to adapt even further, and that is perfectly okay.

There are plenty of pros and cons to taking a year off. The cons outweigh the pros significantly for me. If you are questioning whether or not to take a year off, write your thoughts about it down. Make your own pros and cons list tailored specifically to your situation to help you organize and visualize your thoughts. Consider your options objectively and carefully, and make the best decision for yourself. If the best decision, whether it be to stay in school or to take time off, is outside of your comfort zone, do not be afraid of that. Instead, prepare for it as best you can and embrace the challenge.