If you’ve seen me over the past few months, you’ll know that one thing has been weighing on my mind. I finished my BA majoring in Politics and History last year, and was planning on starting a Master of Social Policy this year but was still very unsure.
I stepped into my first seminar last month and was overwhelmed by the people of all ages and backgrounds very keen to start the degree. Worse, they had all come from either Honours or working in the field. I felt totally out of my depth, as well as that it was unfair for me to be there when I still wasn’t 100% sold on the idea.
So I’m taking time off. At Unimelb, you have a couple of options in this case, depending on your situation. I should note here that I hadn’t passed the census date for any of my subjects, so I wasn’t going to have to pay for any of them. All of the forms for these options can be accessed on your Student Portal.
You can take a leave of absence for up to 12 months and then return to study, however you have to have passed at least one subject census date. As a result, this wasn’t an option for me.
If you haven’t passed the census date for any of your subjects, you can defer the commencement of your course for a minimum of 6 months, which is what I did. To do so, you fill out a form and state your reasons for deferring (eg. lack of money, work experience). You’ll then receive an email letting you know whether your deferral has been approved or declined, and if it has been approved, you’ll receive a new offer for entry at the conclusion of your deferral.
If you want out completely, you can choose to withdraw from your course altogether. However, if you want to withdraw or take a leave of absence after any of your subject census dates have passed, you’ll still be financially liable for those subjects and a WD (withdrawn) grade will be on your academic record.
During my undergrad, I admired people who were planning to take time off – to travel, earn money, whatever. But it always felt like something I wasn’t eligible for. As someone who enjoys uni life and thrives on being busy, I never considered taking time off. But now I’ve realised that it would be silly for me to dedicate my time and money to something I’m not 100% sold on.
I have a part-time job that I enjoy just about as much as you can hope for that sort of thing. I’m going to be doing some volunteering here and there. I’m still going to be on campus fulfilling my role as a Senior Arts Mentor and meetings for the Melbourne University Health Initiative, which will provide a good excuse to catch up with my friends and uni gossip.
It might be the worst idea of my life, or it could turn out to be the best. But that’s okay, it’s 6 months. I’m 21 and I think I need some time to do my own thing, as well as decide which path I want to take before I dive into further study.
Make the choice that’s right for you! And while I don’t have the space to outline them here, you can access university resources, such as speaking to someone at Stop 1 or the Careers Centre, to help make your decision.