Fall term was rough. I had a close friend run into some troubles and I was spending a lot of time making sure their life stays on track. I also had a death in the family during the first week of the term, which was somewhat expected, but none-the-less heartbreaking. On top of that, I was commuting about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. After 10 weeks and almost 8,500 miles, I needed a break and the plan was to take a year off.
Thanks to the wonderful world of financial-aid-fuckery, I couldn’t take a break. That would mean my six-month grace period would kick in and I’d have to start making payments on my loans. This wouldn’t be a huge deal since the plan was to get a full-time job. However, after I do finish my final year I’d have to start making payments again immediately after graduation since the grace period will have already been used up. This is an issue because my path to becoming a Registered Dietitian involves applying and paying for an internship in order to get the RD credential. Basically, I’d be in an unpaid internship for a year post graduation AND I’d have to be paying off my school loans. There may be deferment options in this situation, but I don’t want to run the risk or deal with the paperwork, phone calls, etc. I decided to reduce my credit hours to half-time so I’m still making progress on my degree and I can put off student loan payments a little while longer.
It’s currently 3 weeks into Winter term and things are going well. I’m really glad to be taking the term at a slower pace. All that craziness of last term and all the nonsense of figuring out credit-hour requirements aside, I’m glad I didn’t take a full-on break. Being able to take fewer classes and spend more time on the material with less stress and anxiety means I’m able to retain more information and maintain my sanity. I’ve always been the type of person that needs to take my time and digest information slowly and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
I think it’s really important for people to take things at a pace that challenges them, but it should also work well for them. I can’t speak for anyone else or tell you all how you should run your lives, so I’ll just say from my experience, mental health, physical health, and sleep are worth more than finishing a degree in four years (among other things).