The first thought that crosses one's mind while considering dropping a semester is whether it is a good move. Even though the social point of view makes the idea of dropping a semester plainly negative, it is not that simple. If there is a valid reason, where taking a semester at university will do more harm than good, taking the step of semester drop might be the most viable solution.
Nafisa Rahman, a student of Mathematics and Natural Science at BRAC University, got an offer letter from a Canadian University while studying in BRAC and was preparing for her study permit. She shares her thoughts regarding the decision of dropping a semester, "Since I was mentally prepared that I will study in Canada in future, I was uncertain whether I should continue my studies in BRAC or not. If I had gotten the permit, the fees for the semester would have gone in vain as well; so I decided to drop the semester."
In an unprecedented situation like a pandemic, looking at both financial restrictions and unforeseen measures like online classes, it might be a wise step to take a semester off and suit with the situation. Sakib Ul Hassan, a student at the School of Law in BRAC University, mad such a decision when online classes began. "I wanted to see what approaches my university takes and what problems the students are facing for the first time in this new method. I did not want to take the toll of the unforeseen situation and invest the fees in the very first online semester," said Sakib regarding dropping a semester.
The consequences of dropping a semester depend on different aspects. If someone decides not to enrol in a coming semester within the due period of finalising, it may seem like nothing happened at all. However, if you drop a semester after continuing for a while, it will be considered as withdrawal and might affect overall grades. In some cases, financial aid or scholarships are also at stake. So, if someone is dropping a semester just because it seems difficult or out of laziness, they should not immediately take this step. Rather, discussing with classmates, parents and teachers or trying different methods of excelling may work fine.
In most private universities, students can take a semester off and start the same semester within four to six months of the session. But in the case of public universities-- with a closed credit system, the scenario changes because students will have to take an entire year break and start with the following batch.
Kamrul Islam, a journalism graduate from Dhaka University, shares an interesting story. He came from a remote area and faced difficulties in coping up. "I fell into such a situation where I could not cope and felt I wasn't accepted. I was sure that surviving four years like this will be difficult. So, I took a year drop and started afresh with the next batch. Meanwhile I got time to cope with the university environment and blended with the next batch easily," shared Kamrul.
Dropping a semester will not become a mistake if students are clear about the purpose of opting out and their intention of what to do next. Sakib mentioned that he used the break to brush up his skills, Nafisa prepared for her study abroad mission and Kamrul took the time to adjust in his new environment. Students can invest their time in a new project, start-up, part-time job, skill learning, researching or simply giving time for personal development.
Sakib and Nafisa both held the same thought about the difficulties they faced. It was that the semester drop made them unable to choose courses with their friends or previous classmates. Overall, semester drop might come as a social pressure due to the feeling of falling behind or graduating late and failing in the life race. But this is just a social dilemma. Everyone has a different life clock and the right decisions can make life even better.
So, the bottom line is that dropping a semester will work as a game changer if it is to tackle an important situation which requires time. Depending on the students' planning and execution, semester drops can bring difficulties or work just right for moving forward in a better way.
The writer is a second-year student at IBA, University of Dhaka.