Should You Take a Gap Year?
Historically, the path for college-bound high-school graduates has been seeking an institution and making the transition as soon as you graduate. However, there’s a growing resistance and skepticism that this is the only way to go. A clear sign of this is a gap year, an intentional, scheduled delay between high school and college. Students can take advantage of this to do a variety of different tasks that, in theory, will make their college years more effective. Is this the right route to take for you? Here’s some insight on the different pros and cons.
What Can You Do During A Gap Year?
First, we should detail some of the different things that would-be students can do with their gap year. There isn’t a right or a wrong choice, just what students think will work best for them. Some of the most common options include:
- Pursuing work experience in a field they are planning to study in college
- Traveling abroad to take in some new experiences
- Entering the workforce for financial reasons
- Volunteering for causes they are passionate about
- Picking up a valuable skill through a course (programming, another language, etc.)
In reality, though, anything that you think will be of value for your future development is useful.
Pros of A Gap Year
Here are some of the significant benefits of taking a gap year:
Learning more about your field of study: It’s not uncommon for students to choose a major based on their interests or high school curriculum, only to find out they don’t want this to be a career later on. Pursuing work interests during your gap year lets you learn this lesson and switch gears before you enter college, potentially saving you a headache down the line.
Support your resume: Smart decisions, like working in a field or having valuable volunteer experience, can show potential employers that you are a self-motivated, hard-working person after you graduate. This can be very valuable to help separate you from the pack when it comes to entry-level jobs.
Expand your worldview: Naturally, people apply this to travel during your gap year, but the truth is that any activity outside of your comfort zone is going to change how you think during a gap year. This is a great way to challenge some of your conventions and make yourself a more well-rounded person overall. Many people do this during college, but you have a chance to get ahead of the game here.
Cons of A Gap Year
Here are some of the potential issues with taking a gap year:
It can be expensive (if you’re not working): While the chance to travel is an exciting prospect during a gap year, the money needs to come from somewhere. If your parents aren’t going to finance a gap year, you may need to work through high school to save money for these trips.
The potential loss of study skills: Momentum is a factor in academics. If you take the time away from the classroom, it may be harder for you to adjust to college studies when you do start school. It may be a good idea to find some materials or methods to keep your study skills up during your gap year.
Delay in milestones: You will be behind your peers who don’t take a gap year in terms of academic progression and even applying for jobs in your field after graduation. You want to make sure you are prepared for this when you decide to take a gap year and make sure it is worth it for you.
If the evidence and experts are taken into account, a gap year can be a great way to develop discipline and expand the knowledge of a prospective student. In turn, this allows them to take better advantage of all the opportunities that college offers. However, in order to reap those benefits, it’s important to have a concrete plan, rather than just treating it as a year of vacation. Students mulling over a gap year should talk to educators, mentors, and even people in their field of choice for advice on how to make the most of this time.