Get back on track with Semester Off!
Last year, ILD began a partnership with Dr. Ilan Goldberg of Semester Off, a comprehensive program designed specifically for struggling college students. Semester Off aims to empower students to return to college, if they so choose, or to define another, alternative path that is more in line with their talents, future goals, and objectives.
Given the vast overlap between the goals of Semester Off and ILD, a number of our staff members have begun teaching a weekly course, How to Succeed in College, at Semester Off.
Sitting down with Dr. Goldberg, we learned a bit more about why he started this innovative program and the void in post-secondary education which this organization fills.
What inspired you to start Semester Off?
IG: The idea for Semester Off emerged organically from sessions with struggling college-aged students in my private practice. It became clear that these students lacked the resources to navigate through this challenging time and that time away from school was filled with loneliness and stagnation. I believed that the creation of an academically rigorous and comprehensive group experience would teach the skills needed to succeed, while reducing the feelings of shame and isolation many of these students experience. I also wanted to destigmatize the experience of taking time away from college and bring fun and joy into these students’ lives during an otherwise dark period. Our goal at Semester Off became to help students taking a break from college to get back on track and regain self-confidence.
What distinguishes Semester Off from a “semester on?”
IG: Semester Off students are taking a critical look at why college didn’t work out and learning the skills they need for the next phase of their lives. While we do have lectures, they are interactive ones. But Semester Off offers incredible depth beyond the classroom experience. Students integrate wisdom from Eastern philosophies by participating in meditation and yoga sessions in addition to cardiovascular exercise. They take part in group team-building, group study sessions, and trust-building exercises in order to understand themselves more deeply and bond with their fellow students. They receive individualized career counseling and perform community service. It is our alternative approach to education that makes room for a partnership with ILD as well! Your talented and experienced educators who teach How to Succeed in College present critical executive functioning skills that are reinforced and practiced in countless ways throughout the rest of the Semester Off curriculum.
What are students saying about Semester Off?
IG: Our students and their parents have been our most vociferous supporters since we began. A former student recently shared what his Semester Off experience meant to him, simply and elegantly:
“Semester Off resembles the training ground for life, and by the end of the program, students should feel capable of making their own decisions and acting upon them.”
Stay tuned for Part II of this blog post, written by an ILD teacher of the How to Succeed in College course!