I took a public speaking class in my senior year of high school where we were asked why we wanted to go to college, ultimately opening up the conversation for reasons to take a gap year. After all, they do it in Europe all the time! In reality, it’s almost more commonplace than rushing into university. After attending one semester this fall, the reasons to take a gap year got the better of me and I took a leave of absence for the next year. An adventure I’m ready to take on.
Let’s face the fact that college is expensive. Many students rush to get loans and graduate hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Reasons to take a gap year before college may be wiser for the wallet than you may believe. A year changes you with your experiences so by the time you’re ready to go to college, you’re more committed to what you want to study. It’s more of an investment then, rather than using it as insurance of getting a job. Not all college graduates get jobs immediately after school or get work pertaining to their field.
Whether or not you attended a high school or received your GED equivalent, you’ve been in school for a while. It’s mandatory that students receive formal education until age 16. That’s a considerable amount of years spent studying and learning. And as great as it is that you can list the causes of World War II in your neatly-organized powerpoint, it most likely does not have applicable nature to your job. And how can you know what you want to pursue if you’ve never gotten out there and worked to figure it out. Plus, sometimes you just need a break from the academic pressures.
3. World Experience
A gap year is a good way to start getting a sense of the real world. College has its perks but the real world doesn’t provide you a job, take care of your food needs, or give you a realistic expectation for what life after graduation will be. Your housing, meal plan, work-study-job, and flexibility with your schedule is a luxury. What’s more, taking a year off gives you the availability to travel.
Once you’ve settled down and have loans to pay back or a family to take care of, traveling becomes much harder. You don’t need to get to every continent, but traveling opens your eyes to other ways of living than what you're used to. You may want to travel Europe or venture to the Far East. Or maybe the best travel, and more financially savvy, is to go somewhere in the United States you’ve never been. I’m from the Philadelphia area and my sister and I were talking about traveling to New Orleans. Why not?
Peace Corps or AmeriCorps are two types of volunteer programs that you can get involved with. There are many others that are good for both helping others and traveling at the same time. All you have to do is Google programs you are looking for and see where to go from there. Volunteer work looks great on a résumé! If you don’t want to rush into college, then you might consider giving back.
6. Explore Fields
You may want to be a lawyer because Ally McBeal makes it cool as anything. Or maybe hotel management is your dream because you imagine yourself to be Lorelai Gilmore. TV shows affect our perception of what you do during the job. By taking a year off, you can explore things you are interested in without committing to years of schooling only to discover that you really can’t stand little kids and working as a teacher just isn’t going to cut it.
7. You Can
Though our society puts a big emphasis on attending college immediately after graduation, you technically don’t have to. I was talking with a senior at my college who wished, looking back, that he took the break that I am. A year off allows you to grow as a person emotionally, spiritually, physically, intellectually, and other ways. Do what you want you to do because it’s your life. You can take the advice from your loved ones but ultimately it’s your decision to make.
My gap year is only just starting now but I am ready to see what the year will bring me. I’m open to anything, really. There is no rush. What are other reasons to take a gap year before college? Did you?