Five reasons why it's totally fine to defer a semester

June 01, 2016
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It’s not unusual to find that things don’t work out halfway through the semester, whether that be in terms of what you’re studying or what external commitments you’re juggling outside of uni. A lot of the time – and don’t get bummed out – this will kind of continue going on until exams are over and you might find that your grades have suffered.

So, should you defer? It’s honestly a case-by-case-basis kind of question, but know that it’s not the end of the world. Here are five reasons why it’s fine to defer for a semester.

Even as a twenty-something student, there’s still plenty of time

Realistically we’re talking about a six to seven month gap tops, assuming you count break periods. It’s not exactly a short afternoon, but seven months is the kind of time that goes by without recognising it.

In that time you’ve got a window open to take a stab at full-time work, find volunteer experience in your field of study, or even do some good ol’ fashioned soul searching. Maybe your degree isn’t what you thought it would be - honestly, it happens.

Unis pretty much expect it

In fact, it happens so much that you’ll likely find your uni can even provide you with a form. Deferrals come in all kinds of shapes and for all different reasons. A lot of the time, students will find work experience opportunities too good to pass up even as undergrads, and in those instances deferring for a semester is the perfectly logical thing to do. In this instance, you’ll usually be able to negotiate a way to turn real world experience into credit points. Anyway, my point is, your institution is probably three steps ahead of you.

You’ll likely find the time to re-evaluate what isn’t working

And even if you haven’t got any real world experience to go chasing, it’s probably the case that you just need a few months to re-evaluate what isn’t working and devise a plan of attack.

This isn’t a sign that you’ve failed in any way, just a sign that you’ve probably gone as far with your selected course as you can. If the issue is secondary health or family life issues then that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. But at the end of the day, deferring gives you the step back you may need from it all.

Almost everyone does it at least once

Some people manage to rock up at uni, knock out their three to five years in a row, and then walk right on outta there. It happens, but it’s pretty unusual. A lot of people are out there with at least one deferral on their record, and a lot of people have a few. Just remember it’s not like you’re alone – it’s actually pretty common.

Ultimately you’re saving money

HECS may not be an immediate up-front payment, but those dollars sure are real later down the line. If uni isn’t feeling right to you, don’t keep re-enrolling and having a bad time - this will only hurt you in the long run. Take a step back and lodge that deferral, because future you will be thankful for it.

Jonathon Davidson

Jonathon is studying journalism at Murdoch University in Perth.

Image: Justine Reyes, Flickr Creative Commons license