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Whether you are just starting college, are in the middle of your undergrad, or are simply considering your options as you think about graduation, something that is always on the table for college students is taking time off. This looks different for every person — someone may take this time to travel, whether in a group or solo, to get out of their comfort zone and explore the world. Another person may not go far at all, instead using this free time to expand their job history and gain experience and financial freedom. And then you might go right back to school once you tell yourself your time is up, or you may actually decide that the path that you’ve created for yourself in this break period is something you want to pursue. No matter what looks right for you, taking a break from school has its benefits.

Co-workers working together on a project
Photo by Helena Lopes from Unsplash

We’ve all heard of this frustrating word: burnout. School in the midst of a pandemic is rough. Spending hours staring at a screen, completing assignments, and attempting to be social while socially distant can be exhausting. School is difficult no matter what the year looks like, and in the current state of the world, taking some time to slow down and focus on life outside of school may just be the right thing to do. Pushing yourself to do more and get through it all isn’t always the best option — it could be one that you look back on and wish you had avoided. 

Taking the time to focus on your life outside of what it is in school is probably something that you’ve never done before. Most people jump right into college after high school. You likely did gain some independence from this transition, moving away from your friend group and family at home, and maybe even your hometown, but you still have never taken time to think about what life could look like without wondering when your next assignment is due or worrying about the next big test. If you decide to work or travel during your break, you’re going to be meeting people that you wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise. Instead of classmates, you’re going to be around people that are all on unique life paths, which could allow you to broaden your communication skills and overall perspective. You’d be in a whole new wheelhouse and might just find your passion anew. 

open suitcase with a laptop, camera, a photo, and sunglasses lying around it
Photo by Anete L?si?a from Unsplash

If you’re anything like me, traveling has always been something that is on the back of your mind. You want to get out and experience the world and see a new place, even if it is just a road trip away. While this would be a lot more difficult in the middle of a pandemic, taking time away from college is going to open the door to more possibilites than you could imagine. Working on your independence and financial freedom goes a long way in being able to accomplish your travel goals as well. It may not come as easily as taking time off of school, but it is a large stepping stone in starting that lifestyle. You’re going to explore during your break in one way or another, so don’t let a lack of large adventure plans deter you from deciding to take that next step.​

Taking a year off for many people feels like a pretty tough decision. It comes with the feeling that you may fall behind and steer away from the path that so many others are on, which can certainly be scary. In reality, taking a year off does not mean that you have to get it all together and create a fabulous life for yourself in that time, it simply means that you are giving yourself the space to step back and look at what you’d really like to prioritize for your future. 

Mallory is a sociology major at the University of Utah. She enjoys spending her time catching up on the newest Netflix shows, reading books, or trying to be a little creative.
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