Why It’s Not So Bad to Take off One Semester

How Joining the Navy Made Me a Better Student

By: Brendan Pirando 

Taking off a semester and joining the military expanded my horizons. Photo Credit:

To repudiate the social stigma that surrounds “taking-off” one semester of college, I can assure you that it isn’t the worst thing to do.

I had to leave the fall of 2017 on the back-burner for the Navy. I left for Navy Basic Training in RTC Great Lakes, Il. and NTTC Meridian, Ms. subsequently.

Everyone in my family had the same sentiment, as if I wasn’t going to finish school and complete my degree.

Especially leaving for the military, it took a lot of courage to tell my mom and dad that this was going to happen. Everyone thought I had quit on school as a whole and that there was no possibility of me even attempting a comeback.

I really struggled my first year of college posting a mediocre GPA and dealing with night classes after working in the daytime. It was an overwhelming transition.

Before I get into my personal account, I would like to acknowledge the fact that everyone’s experience is different. I would one hundred percent recommend to anyone to take the chance to explore his/her opportunities when not in school.

The military was my medium to learn more about myself when I took a semester off. I think it benefited me greatly and that I had more structure knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I had the tools now to do so.

When I completed training and came back home to New York I realized here is my chance to really overcome the difficulty I had sitting in the classroom.

I was more concentrated on my school work and my service made better dialogue for classroom discussions.

I got a little traveling done last year and I met so many new people and different walks of life all over the country. I met people that wanted me to succeed as much as I want them to.

Everyone joins the military for different reasons, we all have to go through the same sacrifice to be away from friends and family for several months. That in itself takes courage.

When the Spring 2018 semester started I was enrolled in four classes for fifteen credits. An average semester to most people, but it was really going to take hard work because I hadn’t sat in a classroom in six months.

It really did take one day at a time to start seeing progress. Whether it was assignment I had to read or a lecture quiz at the end of class, I had to stay dedicated.

Slowly, I started making friends in these classes and I felt like things were going really well. I started getting my grades back from midterms and I realized I belong in school. I just needed the discipline from the outside world.

I accomplished many things this spring and I think that I can attribute that to my experience.

Basic Training was really everything I expected to me. I was accountable for everything that happens to me and I was accountable for my peers.

In Basic Training we learn about attention to detail and following orders. These two fundamentals would make any individual successful in the real world.

Attention to detail means to be perfect in everything we do and never to settle for good. If we settle for good then we die because steps will get missed.

Following orders is just as important because we are all going to work for somebody eventually and its important to understand that if these directions aren’t followed people will die.

Mastering the fundamentals makes basically trained sailors ready to fight in time of war. If these tools are utilized in school, work or at home you will see major things happen.

That’s real life and everything about life requires the fundamentals to be mastered in order to succeed. That’s what I learned in the fall of 2017 without having to be in college.

If I had to do it again, I would. Once I got out of Basic Training and left for “A” School I had more things I needed to learn.

CSI has been a great institution to get an education.  I had a lot of help from the Veterans Support Services office in building 1C-216.

I also had help from my classmates and the upperclassmen who gave me so much advice.

I don’t know if I could have made such a good comeback in any other college, but I do know that taking a semester off from school isn’t the worst possible thing to do.

If you have staff and professors who are as dedicated to help as the ones here, then the sky’s the limit.

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