This 2020, my worst college fear came true. I took a Leave of Absence, and ironically, realizing that fear turned out to be one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. Over two terms of LOA, I’ve grown and learned things I never would have in a classroom (physical or online).
Thinking about taking that leap? Here are my biggest takeaways from seizing an LOA:
First off, FOMO isn’t inevitable
Friendships aren’t defined by what you do together! Take it from someone who’s managed to keep the same friends around since he started his LOA. If you cherish your relationships, the right friends will always keep in touch and support you. I’m sure you have those kinds of friends too!
It’ll help you step outside your comfort zone
Looking back, I wish I saw LOAs as opportunities rather than something that should be avoided at all cost. It’s a chance to get out of your comfort zone, and while overwhelming at first, it ultimately led me to grow as a person and embrace uncertainty.
An LOA may start in unfamiliar territory, but it actually widens your horizons and exposes you to eye-opening new perspectives.
You’ll have TIME (i.e. opportunities!!)
Like many others, I thought life only really started after graduation. Here’s the thing, though:
Why wait ‘til you graduate to start seizing opportunities?
A few weeks in and I already stopped caring about being delayed. Why? Because I was exposed to hobbies, jobs and so many opportunities — and I finally had the TIME to seize them.
You too can make the most out of it, learn outside of school & gain diverse experience. There’s no rush to have everything figured out, and there’s nothing wrong with graduating at your own pace!
It’ll challenge you to TRY
With all the time in the world and opportunities at your fingertips, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by choice. So, what do you do when you get stuck?
Just start. Take that first step, and challenge yourself. Whether it’s reigniting old hobbies, building your network, or just trying new things — just test things out & TRY, there’s time to learn what you love along the way.
It’ll give you the chance to explore other paths
I’m an architecture student currently working as a business development manager for a startup. Strange, but this taught me that there are truly endless possibilities for where you can go in life.
I used to believe that life was all about choosing one path —now I see the future as an open field, with the only thing limiting me before being my own doubts and fears. My LOA taught me that life can take you in any direction, industry, or passion. Just follow what you believe in and don’t hesitate to try new things!
You’ll discover that you can thrive beyond what you study
Your course & current skills don’t have to limit your potential! These uncharted endeavors and learnings can help in any career you’ll end up pursuing.
My LOA not only showed what else the world has to offer, but also what I can offer the world beyond my course description.
(Taken from Unsplash by Taylor Hernandez)
It’s a conversation worth having
Hitting pause and relearning is okay, not prioritizing your mental well-being, isn’t. If a LOA is something you need, just remember”
Your mental health is more important than the year you graduate.
A LOA is a great chance to renew passions, develop skills, or just get back to yourself. You’re not weak by needing a break. You’re strong by accepting that and braving that first step.
You’ll return more ambitious than you left
My LOA led me to learn more about myself, and grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It was the start of a more ambitious me, and I believe it can be a great start for you too.
Allowing yourself time to rest and explore isn’t directionless, it’s simply accepting control of your own future.
Would you take a leave of absence?