Feeling Overwhelmed? Here’s How to Know if You Should Take Some Time Off

Deciding whether or not to take a semester off from college is a major decision, and it can be quite overwhelming. It’s important to carefully consider the reasons behind this consideration and how it can impact your academic and personal well-being.

In this article, we will explore common reasons why students take time off and provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, experiencing career doubts, or facing personal circumstances, we’ve got you covered.

1. Feeling Overwhelmed on a Daily Basis

College life can be overwhelming, especially during high-pressure periods like finals week. However, it should also be a time of personal growth and enjoyment. If you find yourself constantly feeling overwhelmed, even during less demanding times, it may be a sign that you need a break. Sustained feelings of overwhelm can negatively impact your academic performance and overall well-being. We want you to thrive and make the most of your college years.

Consider reaching out to a college counselor who can offer guidance and strategies to manage your anxiety. If they agree that taking time off could be beneficial, you may find the answer you’ve been searching for.

2. Career Doubts

Experiencing doubts about your career path is perfectly normal. Choosing the right career is a significant decision and can create a lot of stress. It takes time to discover your true passions and find the right career path for you. If career-related uncertainties are driving your consideration of a break, there might be another solution.

Talk to your academic advisor about changing your major to undeclared. This will allow you to explore different fields of study simultaneously and potentially discover your true passion along the way.

3. Personal Circumstances

Life is full of unexpected events, and sometimes personal circumstances can interfere with your college journey. If you’re dealing with a family emergency or a medical condition that is affecting your health and academics, taking time off should be seriously considered.

Remember, your time in college should be filled with new adventures and positive experiences. If personal circumstances are hindering your overall well-being, taking a break might be the right choice for you.

What to Do Next?

If you believe a break from college is the right decision, there are important steps to take to ensure a smooth transition and minimize any negative impacts:

1. Discuss Your Plans with a School Official

Talk to your academic advisor about your intentions to take time off. They have experience in dealing with similar situations and can help you develop a plan for your return to academia.

This proactive approach will ensure you have the best possible outcome when you decide to resume your studies.

2. Determine the Financial Aid Implications

If you receive financial aid, taking time off could impact your eligibility, depending on the duration of your break. For instance, Federal Student Aid requires enrolment in at least 12 credits per semester to maintain eligibility. To understand how a break may affect your financial aid, it’s crucial to consult a financial advisor at your school.

They will outline your options and provide guidance on regaining eligibility upon your return.

3. Create a Contingency Plan for Your Return

Even if you’re uncertain about returning to college, having a plan in place can bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones. While it’s not necessary to have all the details figured out, crafting a rough contingency plan can help alleviate anxiety. If you plan to take a one-year break, consider mapping out the specific semester you intend to resume your studies.

Discuss the necessary steps, such as filling out the FAFSA and selecting appropriate classes, with your advisor. This strategy will help you ease into the process as your return date approaches.

4. Make the Most of Your Break

While on a break, take the time to engage in activities you enjoy. Spend quality time with family and friends, prioritize rest, and if possible, consider taking up a part-time job to save for future expenses. College can be expensive, and using your break to accumulate some savings is a smart idea.

Taking care of your overall well-being is crucial for performing at your best once you return to school.

Remember, You’re Not Alone

It’s important to realize that many of your peers may be experiencing similar concerns. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you trust and share your worries. Remember, supporting your emotional and physical well-being is essential for achieving academic success.

Take the time you need to recharge and make sure you’re prioritizing self-care during this break.


College is a transformative period in your life, and decisions regarding time off shouldn’t be taken lightly. By considering these factors and following the recommended steps, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed and confident decision that benefits your overall college experience.

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