Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Editorial: Semesters off can prove rewarding pathway

Many Brown students graduate with a “.5” at the end of their years — a figure signifying that they have taken a non-traditional route in college. So-called “.5-ers” may have transferred from another institution, decided to graduate early or late or taken time off to explore other pursuits. These alternative routes may be considered less conventional, but the number of students who follow them is climbing. The Herald reported yesterday (“Seeking ‘real world’ projects, midyear grads on the rise,” Dec. 2) that the number of midyear grads is on the rise, with an increasing number of students taking a semester off to pursue real-world experience through internships or other avenues. While this option is by no means intended for everyone, a semester — or even more — away from school is a valuable pathway that college students often overlook.

A semester off allows students the opportunity to step away from Brown, apply their formal education to real-world experiences and then return more ready and able to take advantage of campus resources before graduation. The chance to pursue projects such as working in a lab, volunteering on a political campaign, conducting research abroad or interning at a firm allows students to more fully integrate classroom learning with practical applications of that information.

But an experience need not be fully related to a student’s academic plans to be fulfilling. Volunteer work or traveling can also give students a broader, more informed perspective about the world around them.

And time away from Brown can prevent the all-too-prevalent burnout that frequently afflicts students from sophomores to seniors. Four straight years of rigorous exams and coursework can take their toll on students, making them question the purpose of their education. Time away can serve as an important reminder that what we learn and do at Brown can serve a multitude of purposes in the outside world after graduation.

Students may be concerned about not graduating with their friends or falling “out of sync” with the traditional path to graduation. But these concerns may not reflect the true nature of a Brown education. The point of Brown’s philosophy is that each student’s education should reflect the individual student. A semester off can foster that individuality and distinctiveness.

A semester off is not the appropriate path for everyone, but we encourage students not to be immutably affixed to the idea of graduating in four years and to consider routes such as time off. Time away from Brown can be just as valuable as time at Brown, and can even make the years one does spend at college more rewarding.


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editor, Rachel Occhiogrosso, and its members, Daniel Jeon, Hannah Loewentheil and Thomas Nath. Send comments to



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.