Do You Need a Break From School?


I recently received an email from a prospective IMC student asking me whether I recommended taking classes year-round or taking a semester off. This was also a popular topic of discussion at the 2013 Integrate Conference, as every prospective or new student wants to know “how long will it really take me to get my IMC degree?” Of course there is no easy answer. How long you take to complete the program is a personal decision and what has worked for one student might not work for others.

Keep Calm It's Almost Summer Break

Sometimes taking a semester off can help you return to school with more energy and excitement.

As for me, when I first decided to enroll in the IMC program I was determined to take 1 class every semester, without a break, so I could finish up in just 2.5 years. This seemed to be very doable and the idea of finishing up as quickly as possibly appealed to me. Then I completed my first two semesters and reality set-in. Already juggling the roles of wife and mother along with a demanding marketing job, I realized that not taking a break was going to lead to burn-out very quickly. So, I took the summer semester off my first year. I struggled with the decision, knowing it would prolong my time in school. But being able to spend more time with my family for those three months, without worrying about homework assignments or discussion board posts was wonderful! I re-discovered what it was like to read a book for pleasure, and cuddle with my husband on the couch in the evenings without a laptop. Not only was it nice to have the break, but when the fall semester started that August I felt ready, even excited to begin school again.

After that first year I decided finishing the program with balance in my life was more important that finishing it as quickly as possible. So I made the decision to take off at least one semester every year and give myself, and my family, that break. Yes, this means it’s taking me 3.5 years, instead of 2.5 to finish, but as I like to say to people when they ask how long I’ve been in school “it’s a marathon, not a sprint!”

If you are a prospective IMC student, or even a current student struggling with the idea of taking a semester off, I encourage you to look at your life and ask yourself what you think you can realistically handle. Don’t compare yourself to other students, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t able to stick with your original plans. In the end, it’s about crossing that finish line; and no awards are given for being the fastest in this marathon.

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6 Responses to “Do You Need a Break From School?”

  1. jane Says:

    Thanks for this input! I was just thinking about this over the weekend, as my first semester ends up. Although I’d love to get the degree finished as soon as possible, why rush it at the expense of my family? I appreciate your candor!

    • jelise2012 Says:

      Jane – glad that the post was good timing for you! I think many of us battle with this decision, but it’s good to know we’re not alone. Best of luck!

  2. Lindsey (@theschwalb) Says:

    Great post, Jelise. I started the IMC program in January and had to take the summer term off due to a 2-week international trip that couldn’t happen at any other time. I was a bit anxious about losing momentum, but, like you, I’m now finding myself excited to start class again in Early Fall! I’m not sure if I’ll take the summer off each year, but it’s definitely been a nice break to focus on work and friends. I’m glad to see that other students feel the same!

    • jelise2012 Says:

      Thanks, Lindsey. I know what you mean about getting excited to start up classes after a break. Taking the break each summer has kept me excited about the program and prevented burn-out. Good luck to you as you continue through the program!

  3. Matthew R. "Rick" Bryson Says:

    I take off the early spring term. When you combine this with the one month break over Christmas and New Years it gives me a much needed 3 month rest. Then, my batteries are recharged and I go straight on through till December and I’m back to my 3 month break again.

    In this way, after every two terms I get a break (late spring, summer, break, early and late fall, break) That’s my plan….and I’m sticking to it!!!

    At the end of the day, you need to find what pace works for you….after all, you are the one doing all the hard work.

    • jelise2012 Says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Rick. It’s great to hear you’ve found a system that works for you. And I agree, we all have to find what works for us and our life situation!

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