Semester Off Overview

Semester Off is an innovative, group-based, educational enrichment program crafted specifically for college students taking a semester- or year-long leave of absence from college. Drawing from Eastern and Western traditions and the most recent advances in mental health care, the Semester Off curriculum provides students with a supportive and challenging environment where they can better understand what interfered with their earlier attempt, or attempts, at college.

The program integrates academics, career counseling, community service, wellness practices (including yoga, meditation, and cardiovascular exercise), executive functioning coaching, and group team-building. It is specifically designed to be both enriching and fun! In essence, it is a place for students to pause, contemplate, learn valuable skills, and begin mapping a new trajectory for their academic, social, and professional lives.

Semester Off also runs summer programming which includes more abbreviated versions of the full-semester experience. Summer programming is designed specifically for recent high school graduates who may not have attempted college and who want to start college with the best chances for success!

“I felt the program did what it set out to do for me, even if I decide not to go back to college immediately.  I feel I am more prepared to return to college now in the future, and that what I learned in this program will be part of what leads me to success.”
“Semester Off is a program that ignites the natural spark that a person already knew was there. It doesn’t just help people get better, it encourages them to pursue a way of life that they want to live. It gives people strength when they feel that they have none.”
“I’m really glad I decided to do SO.”
“I don’t know what I would have done without Semester Off. Anyone who is taking some time away from college should consider this program. You just might end up finding yourself.”
“I now feel confident that I will succeed in life no matter what I do! I owe this organization my life and all of my happiness.”
“As parents we will be eternally grateful for the counseling, confidence and support which Semester Off provided our son in a serious time of need. He found himself out of school, depressed, and seeing someone for help, but felt totally and completely isolated. He had no friends at home, no peers and was drowning. Semester Off was the life raft he needed.”

Our Mission

Our mission is to create a life-changing experience that empowers each student either to complete college or to define another, alternative path which is more in line with his/her/their talents, future goals, and objectives. We also seek to help recent high school graduates gain the necessary skills and awareness so that they can successfully navigate their first year in college.

A core belief at Semester Off is that each of
our students has the inner potential to succeed given the right environment.

Our Students

There are many reasons a student may encounter difficulty in college. Students and college administrators most commonly cite basic academic unpreparedness, poor time-management, troubled relationships (including peer pressure), substance abuse, and identity issues (e.g., gender/sexuality or uncertainty about academic and career plans).

About Us

Semester Off was founded by Ilan P. Goldberg, MD, a board-certified, Harvard-trained psychiatrist and medical ethicist who maintains a private practice in the Boston area. Through his work with the college population in his own practice, he came to realize the lack of services available to these students.

Our Approach

Approach and Enrichment Philosophy

A core belief at Semester Off is that each of our students has the inner potential to succeed given the right environment. For some, this means a more compassionate and empathic learning milieu to improve confidence and self-esteem. For others, this means a more structured setting where expectations are clear and concise and high standards of personal and academic conduct are reinforced. For all of our students, we will provide a respectful, nurturing space for learning and self-reflection and create a social latticework within which the student will develop a sense of belonging and connection.