By Reneé Medina
Is taking time off from school really a bad idea?
When life was getting difficult to handle (as if it wasn’t hard enough already), many college students decided to put their education on pause due to the pandemic. Unsure of how to continue, seemingly the only option left was to take a much-needed hiatus.
“Online learning just became too stressful for me and I wanted to be on campus for my last two years,” said Chris Delgado.
The 21-year-old, who is currently a junior, was supposed to graduate in the Spring of 2022. Now, he will be graduating with the class of 2023. As a communications major, Delgado thought about how his financial aid would be affected due to taking a semester off from school. It is a hard conversation for students to have with their parents as well, as Delgado was troubled with how his own parents would respond to his decision.
“My mom wasn’t thrilled but left the decision up to me," he said. "My stepdad was completely in favor of it."
At the end of the day, it is ultimately the students’ decision.
“I wish I had taken the full year off instead of just the semester because I won’t have as much time on campus now,” he said.
Delgado said that he had never thought about not returning to campus after taking time off, and does not find it difficult to catch up in his major. He also mentioned that most of his friends will graduate before him though he doesn’t let that affect his time at school.
He said, ''I'm not too upset about it. Life isn’t a race.”
Abigail Cadwalader, 21, an anthropology major, took a year off from school due to COVID, mental health, and her dislike for online learning.
“I had some bad roommate situations that triggered a lot of mental stuff for me," she said. "Plus, having to isolate because of COVID and being home was also hard for me."
Cadwalader, a sophomore, was supposed to graduate with the class of 2023 and is now a year behind.
“I needed help and I couldn’t be in school to receive that help," she said. "Taking the year off wasn’t a choice."
Fortunately, her friends and family supported her decision to take time off from school, which she does not regret.
“Lots of my friends from freshman year also took a gap year because of COVID," she said. "It is sad to not graduate with all my friends, but I am still glad I took that year off."
During her absence, she also had thoughts of transferring to another college closer to where she lives in New York.
“I learned a lot during my time off," she said. "It was definitely harder to get back in the swing of work after a year. It had been harder for me to concentrate and really do my work to the best of my ability."
“I had a plan to graduate, and then take on more hours at my teaching job for a year before moving out of my parents' house,” said 23-year-old Greg Hunter. “The pandemic hit and I decided to just switch the year that I graduate and the year that I work.”
As a double major in studio composition and classical performance, Hunter typically has a lot on his plate, taking around 20 credits a semester, though he said that 20 credits are on the lower side of what music students usually take.
Hunter, who took a gap year, is currently in his senior year and will be graduating in 2022, instead of graduating this year, 2021.
“I felt that the quality of the education being offered was being compromised by the COVID-19 restrictions," he said. "In music school, most of the benefit of going is forming a network of other musicians to work with, and with the absence of in-person shows, this seemed impossible."
His friends and family thought it was a good idea for him to take time off from school during the pandemic, supporting his decision. Hunter does not regret his decision either.
“I have a music teaching job at an afterschool program and the gap year seemed like a perfect opportunity to take on more hours there and save up some money," he said. “I think it was beneficial to organize my thoughts about what kind of career I want to have and solidify what I plan to do after I graduate.”