Student grapples with whether to take a break from school | Ask Kelly

Administration Building

Editor’s Note: Do you have a question about distance learning or coping with school in these challenging times? Each week Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

Dear Kelly,

I am finally done with this semester and feel I need a break. I originally planned on taking summer classes and know that if I take a break, I’ll have to make up those classes later, which may change my graduation date. What’s your advice?

Oh yes, the much deserved and needed break. I am in the same boat. You see, I just finished my junior year and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are tired. This last semester was challenging, and the race that we are so used to running just seemed longer and all uphill. There were twists and turns — and some potholes — that none of us saw coming.  We have finally reached that finish line, and, goodness, wouldn’t a nice, long break be nice?

When I considered this in my own journey, I also had to weigh the costs. I had a photography teacher, years ago, that used to say, “For everything you gain, you must lose something.” That statement was so profound to me because it’s so true.  Sometimes, those gains are worth the losses, like when you choose not to buy that new thing you want because you would rather put money into savings. But there are other times that the gains — for instance, a summer break with no classes — aren’t worth the loss because it would push back your graduation or would cause you to have to take extra classes in fall and spring. 

The truth is, you haven’t just been through a race, you’ve shown yourself how strong you are. You now know what you can accomplish. When the going got tough, you stayed strong and finished what you started. Why stop now? You’ve just built up muscle, tenacity and endurance. You know that when you put your heart and mind into something, you can accomplish it.

Let me put it to you this way. I’m 47 years old, and I’m a junior at Mercer (a school I always wanted to attend) studying to become a teacher (something I’ve always wanted to be). So why am I 47 and finally doing it? After dropping out of the first college I attended, I tried going to school again when I was 21. I dropped out of that school after a year and a half because “I needed a break.” It was a very long break — 22 years to be exact.

You see, life happened. I became focused on other things, and school was no longer a priority. My goal of going to Mercer and becoming a teacher took a back seat. My husband and I raised two sons, and it wasn’t until they were in college and I was sitting there trying to figure out what was next that I finally decided to try again, one last time. This time, I will succeed.

Breaks are good, and they are needed. Just ask yourself, “Is it worth it to take the whole summer off, or is there maybe a different solution?” You could cut back your schedule, rather than two courses, only take one. You could possibly switch the courses you are taking; for instance, rather than taking a more difficult course, take something with less rigor. You could even try to split your classes, take one course the first session of summer and one course during the second session.

My best advice would be to contact your adviser. Mercer’s advisers are there for you. Let them know how you feel and that you are seriously considering taking the summer off. Ask them if there is any advice they can give to help you lighten the load without taking the summer off. Mercer wants us all to succeed. After all, that is why their motto is, “Be the Bear.” 

To specifically quote Mercer’s homepage, “Mercerians were put here for times like these. Even in challenging times, our purpose is never lost. We continue to teach. To learn. To create. To discover. To inspire. To empower. To serve. And we will emerge stronger than ever.”

You can do this!

As always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey.


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