I recently received a message on my Facebook Page from a girl (about a year younger than me) asking about my choice to defer college for a year. This girl was in a different situation than I was but she was just wondering how it benefited me and if I would recommend it. I gave her the best advice I could, based on her situation, however, it got me thinking: there must be so many people going through something, struggling or just having doubts- leading them to think about deferring. For me, I was really lucky because in the college I attend (IADT, Dun Laoghaire), they are super supportive and have an excellent Student Union that were there for me every step of the way. And, as well as that, actually getting the deferral granted sometimes isn’t the problem, it’s figuring out what you’re going to do with a year, further more, if you’ll regret taking the time off in fear of having wasted it. Let me start by noting to you all that this is simply my college deferral experience. I am no expert but I have been there so by sharing my experience, I hope you gain some knowledge that furthers your decision.
I want to start off by telling you why exactly I deferred. I deferred college because I was diagnosed with mental issues that affected my ability to perform academically. I had depression and anxiety and was also suffering terribly with panic attacks and nausea. For the whole of first year, I was fine! I got mostly B’s and C’s and furthered to second year. For the first three months of second year, I guess I was okay. But when my Christmas exams and end of term work started piling up, I just couldn’t handle it. Every time I set foot on campus, I’d just cry. I tried to force myself to work, one day, in the library while I was crying and having a panic attack. I sat there for nearly two hours barely breathing properly forcing myself to read Psycho by Robert Bloch. I had to call my Dad to talk me down so I could drive home safely.
I can talk about it now and it doesn’t seem real. It seems like I’m talking about a different person. I was so ill and I actually didn’t realise, at all, just how sick I was (to become). Anyway, my parents sat me down and told me that I couldn’t go on like that. Considering we pay my fees with all of our wages (pitched in), we couldn’t afford to waste a year tuition to have me repeat or even drop out. So we made the decision to apply for a deferral. The Student Union of IADT all helped me write my letter to the head of the college and on my grounds of being unwell (along with a doctor’s letter), I was granted a deferral.
I was so embarrassed and devastated. I’m an ‘all-go’ kind of girl and I had this plan that I would graduate when I was twenty-one and do such and such. I had it so planned out in my head what was going to happen, that I wasn’t even really sure what was going on. Anyway, I looked into part-time college courses and tried to go to work part time but eventually I got worse and had to go on sick leave for a while. Then when I went back to work, I got bad again so I had to stop working. I spent days in bed, not eating, just throwing up.I didn’t know why but I couldn’t stop crying- I mean, whaling. At one stage my mom was convinced she’d have to hospitalize me fully in order to see any recovery! It was horrible, so surreal. I started to make myself do small things like get up and make a cup of tea. Go to the garden and water something. Drive to the shop and get something. Go see my nan. And eventually, I wasn’t afraid of the world anymore (not as much as I was!). Then I got a full-time job in a really nice café (where I still work now and love!) and eventually with the help of both counselling and medication, I have gotten better. When I say that, I don’t mean that I am the best I can be. I mean that I am better than I was yesterday or six months ago.
If I hadn’t of applied for the deferral, I would never have addressed any of my problems and they would still be compressed and festering today. I would never have learned certain lessons that I am so glad stand by me now. I have learned how to be an adult. I get up, I go to work, I deal with people, I go out with friends, I see my family, I’m still with my amazing boyfriend that (I DON’T KNOW HOW) stayed by my side through all of that. I needed that time, as much as I didn’t want to admit it. As much as I wanted to graduate at twenty-one (instead of a year later), I know that this year has made me who I am going to be for the rest of my life. By taking a time out, I’ve learned patience and responsibility. I’ve also learned the most important thing- which is how to love and respect myself- which I could never understand or do.
So, all in all, on my half of it, yes, I recommend the deferral. I think it was the best thing I could have done, even though I didn’t want to believe it at the time. I gave myself a break. I let myself have time to breathe, reflect, learn and just live. I’d never just lived before, I was always waiting for someone or something. I was always worried about something- don’t get me wrong, I still worry most of the time- but I just let myself have a break. And just because it was the best for me, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. Just because that was my reason, doesn’t mean you need the same one. There are ways and means around everything! So don’t get your panties in a bunch, look at other options, ask around, do your research and hopefully you will know in your heart what the best thing for you to do is. Trust your gut.
Regarding an update, I have applied for the same course to pick up where I left off in September. I have purchased all of my notebooks and pens and I’m excited to go back, I feel ready to learn more. I still have bad days where I cry, get sick, stay in bed, but I know that it will pass so I try to stay patient and let myself have that moment of downtime. I still take my medication daily, however, I haven’t needed counselling since May. Which is a miracle considering at one stage it was all I lived for.
So, there you have it, me in all my vulnerability! I hope I’ve helped some of you learn more about my decision to defer. My main point in this blog is that I am so happy with my decision and if you are having any doubts at all, find out more first because every college is different. However, don’t think that it’ll be the end of the world if you give yourself a break. There’s always next year and everything doesn’t have to happen right now. The college isn’t going anywhere, the course isn’t going anywhere. Hopefully, you’re not going anywhere. So let yourself have some time to grow. Come back to it when you’re feeling fresher. I don’t see anything wrong with that.