Updated: May 25
The idea of a gap year is daunting for many students leaving high school. They have just spent the last 12 years of their life going to school every day. For this reason, it is so hard to decide to take a gap year. There are plenty of reasons why it is easier to continue your education and go straight into college. Feeling pressure from your peers and loved ones and the desire to be independent can lead you to believe that starting college right after you graduate is the best decision. College is an exciting time where you meet new people and figure out who you are. It makes sense that high schoolers want to experience this as soon as possible. However, these are the same reasons why a gap year before college can better prepare you for life and higher education.
According to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA, only “3% of American students take a year off before heading to college” (Student Conservation Association, 2017). This statistic can be discouraging when deciding whether to take a year off. It may cause you to question if you are doing something wrong for deferring school by a year. The truth is there is no right or wrong way to do college. Everyone tackles it differently. Some people know what they want to do as soon as they enter college, and others don’t figure it out until their last year. Some people go as soon as they graduate, while others take a year off. . There is no correct answer; you have to do what feels best for you. As today’s generation struggles with mental health more than any other generation before them, it is necessary for students to take a year off.
Taking a gap year can give you invaluable life experiences unavailable in college. Finding who you are outside of school is so important. By the time you are 18, your entire life has been centered around school and it can be hard to recognize the person you are without it.A gap year will allow you time to travel, work, or discover where your interest lies. I see more and more that my friends in college have yet to learn what they like, which makes it very difficult to choose a career path. . If you go into college knowing what you want and don’t like career-wise, you will already be setting yourself up for success.
I speak on this topic as someone who did not take a gap year. I gave in to the pressure from a society that defined my worth by how I performed in school. I questioned if I wasn’t in school, what would my purpose be? A gap year would have allowed me to figure this out instead of me trying to while I’m in school. If the pandemic taught us anything, the future is uncertain, so you should focus on the things that make you happy. If you don’t know what that is, take a gap year.
[Clip art of college versus gap year]. (2014). https://flathatnews.com/2014/04/10/gap-year-experience/
Creative Commons. (2015). A World of Opportunity… Take a Gap Year [Photograph]. The Wellesley News. https://thewellesleynews.com/2015/02/18/gap-years-are-not-elitist-experiences/
Student Conservation Association. (2017, September 26). Gap years: What does the research say? Student Conservation Association. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://www.thesca.org/connect/blog/gap-years-what-does-research-say/#:~:text=And%20few%20do%3A%20a%20recent,since%20at%20least%20the%201960s