Finishing your secondary studies and receiving an offer from a university or TAFE to study further is an important milestone. You might be feeling relieved, excited, exhausted and overwhelmed all at once. You might even be wondering if further study right now is the best thing for you. If so, then deferring your studies might be something to consider.
Deferring Vs Interrupting
Sometimes people confuse the term ‘deferring’ with ‘interrupting’ their studies.
Deferring is something you do before you begin your course. If you want to take a break partway through your course, it’s generally called ‘interrupting’ your studies.
Deferring your course means that you’ve accepted the place offered, but you plan to take a break first. How long your break will be depends upon a number of factors, including the rules regarding deferring at your tertiary institution.
You can usually defer your course for 12 months. Some institutions will let you defer for up to two years, while others will let you defer for a semester. In some cases, it may not be possible to defer.
Why would you defer?
Some reasons for deferral include:
- needing to take some time off before tertiary study
- not getting into the course you wanted
- wanting to travel
- being offered a fantastic job/work opportunity
- needing to save money to pay for your course
- personal or family issues.
The process of deferring your studies will vary between each university or TAFE, so check with your institution on how to go about it. However, the process usually involves accepting your offer and filling out a deferral application form.
Things to consider
Before you are too carried away with the idea of deferring (because a year off to do your own thing sounds fabulous), there are some pros and cons to consider.
- Taking a break might help you recharge and avoid ‘burnout’, particularly if you worked very hard to get into your course.
- Some time off study might help you find a bit more balance in your life, and help you refocus to work hard when you begin your studies again.
- You will have time to reconsider your study options, particularly if you didn’t get into the course you really wanted, or if you’re unsure of what you really want to study.
- Some time off might provide you with an opportunity to work so you can afford to pay for your course, particularly if your field of choice requires a lengthy study time.
- It’s the perfect time to travel and see the world, before the responsibilities of study and work take hold.
- It will provide you with opportunities for different experiences that might not be possible while studying.
- It will help you to become more independent.
- You can lose the momentum gained from years of study.
- The transition back to study after a year off might be difficult, and you might have trouble settling back into study.
- You might not find a job, and therefore run the risk of doing nothing for that year.
- There’s a temptation not to go back to study, which might compromise and limit long-term job prospects.
- Some institutions might not allow you to defer your studies, or there might be conditions attached to your deferral.
- Scholarships or bursaries can come with a ‘no deferral’ policy, which means you will lose them if you defer.
Some final advice
As with any important decision in life, you need to think about it carefully. What you choose to do will depend upon your course, your goals, and how you’re feeling.
If you find it hard to decide whether to defer or not, write down a list of all the advantages and disadvantages and try to look at it impartially. You might want to seek the advice or opinion of family and friends, although it is important that the decision you make is yours.
You might also want to talk to a careers counsellor at your tertiary institution. They’re likely to have lots of experience in this area, and might get you to think about things in a different light.
Before making a decision, however, ensure you understand your tertiary institution’s policies regarding deferral, as conditions will vary across institutions.