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Should You Press Pause on College?

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by Kelsey Bennett Kelsey led one of the very first IMMERSION programs in Costa Rica before working with college students. Now she helps EM mission trip teams prepare to serve in Latin American communities.

It’s Monday morning, and you're considering whether or not you want to skip class. You finally pull yourself out of bed, deciding to go at the last minute so you don’t feel bad for not going. You race to class and sit down in the back. (Or in 2020/2021, log on to Zoom and keep your video turned off.) And while you are physically in class, maybe chugging coffee while attempting to listen to your ECON professor—really you’re just scrolling and not taking in a single word. It hits you: "I should have just skipped class, this is pointless."

I hope your college experience has been different, but if you resonate at all with this scenario, it might be the right time to explore taking some time away from school. After all, the point of going to college is to prepare your mind and skills for the future in a specific career field. Whether you’re begrudgingly attending classes (or skipping them altogether) or gritting your teeth and willing yourself to hang on every word from your professors, it’s important to stop and ask yourself, Do I care about this path? Does it fit who I am as a person or who I hope to be someday? Where am I hoping my life will go?

international mission trips

Of course, it is naive to think we can live on passion alone, that we don’t need to make money in order to get by in this world. But too often we can convince ourselves that working in a field we’re not passionate about will be worth the lack of engagement and meaning.

Allow me to offer a counter-proposal.

As someone who has intentionally sought work and job fields I was passionate about, taking a pay cut has always been worth it when it comes to living the way I want to live—filled with joy and with life.

So how do you know if it’s time for you to take a break from school?

1. You find no passion or purpose in what you are studying.

Perhaps you once thought you’d enjoy a specific path but it has now shifted, or maybe you thought your chosen direction would entail something other than what it actually entails. No matter what, if you do not find purpose and/or passion in what you are studying, a break can help you refocus and recommit to what you actually want to do with your life.

2. You are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Maybe you feel like you should be on a specific life path, whether you feel pressure from parents, yourself, or looming financial worries. But if you are in school for any reason other than having skills and a passion for a specific career, ask yourself, When will I burn out? When will the outlying factors no longer make it worth it? The joy you can find doing work with purpose and passion will forever outweigh the minimal substance you find in doing something for the should.

3. You’ve recently had some big life changes and need to reconsider things.

Has something significant recently changed in your life? Perhaps a significant loss, a tough diagnosis, or maybe even just a shift in perspective (global pandemic, anyone?) has caused you to reconsider your career path. Often God uses the jarring moments in our lives to help us refocus and pivot the direction we are headed. This might be a great time to pause and see what else could be in store for your future.

international mission trips

If these ideas have struck a chord, you may be wondering what to do next. A gap year (or 1-6 month global IMMERSION program) might be just the right experience to intentionally refocus and discover what you want to do with your life. Spending time serving and caring about others will always ground us and give us perspective that we were once lacking.

It’s also important to note that these sorts of experiences are not limited to those who feel called to full-time ministry or international missions. God doesn’t have just one idea of what it means to use our gifts and passions. Sure, he may have gifted you to be a missionary, but he might also have given you the gifts to be a financial planner, an attorney, a parent, a counselor...the list goes on and on. The most influential times in my life have been the “pause moments” where I took a step back, rather than plowing forward, and allowed God to move while I’m undistracted and more willing to listen. God has gifted and impassioned you uniquely. If you’re feeling stuck or simply want to break out of the “shoulds” of life, you’re invited to find out what God is calling you into with a “pause moment” of your own.

Apply now to join a 1-9 Month IMMERSION or Gap Year missions experience!


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