Gap years, the typical route for high school graduates who want to “find themselves” during a time period of traveling or the complete opposite; staying home. There is a certain stigma around gap years, meaning they are usually frowned upon. But coming from someone who graduates in a month and still has no clue what they want to do with their life, a gap year doesn’t seem half bad.
Some high school graduates feel so burnt out from all of their years of school, that it’s difficult to find the motivation to continue with a higher education. It can actually be healthy to take a rest to recalibrate and refresh, rather than jump right into university courses. A gap year serves as a great way to break down the classroom walls and experience the real world, learning things that aren’t always teachable before college.
“To me, the most important things I could learn couldn't be found in textbooks but rather through experiencing others cultures and customs,” said Katie Rice, blog writer for Stripes Europe. Rice took a gap year directly after high school and spent her time primarily in London but visited places all over Europe.
“I am not saying a gap year should be a time for laziness or partying but rather an enriching and cultural experience,” Rice said.
It can be challenging to go against the grain but feeling stuck or lost is even harder. Don’t think of a gap year as a setback but rather getting ahead.
“Rather than setting me back, my ‘year off’ set me up for an even brighter future with experiences I never dreamed I would have,” said Rice.
Students shouldn’t be shamed for wanting to take gap years. If college doesn’t feel right, don’t let society say it’s right. Don’t waste time attending a university that feels miserable, and especially don’t waste the money on tuition along with a plethora of other expenses. For some, the college experience can be restrictive and many people go into school feeling unprepared. Taking time to get a job or travel can be the learning experience that young adults need.
“For me, a gap year meant freedom,” Rice said.
However, if travel is the specific freedom a student taking a gap year is craving, the expenses can surely rack up. Depending on the location, lodging and other various trip expenses, the cost can be quite scary.
Although traveling is the default for gap year takers, it doesn’t have to be. Getting a job can show future employers that the applicant holds qualities such as commitment, passion and responsibility. Plus, a gap year filled with work can build maturity, independence and accustom young adults to the “real world.” Unpaid volunteer work is always an option as well, which is eye-opening and gives off a sense of humanity.
“I have realized over and over again that life is so much more than paychecks and material items,” said Rice.
“It’s about people, experiences and knowledge. And honestly, that’s what your gap year can be about,” she said.
Disobeying the status-quo isn’t always easy. But if going to college doesn’t seem like the right path, a gap year allows time and space for rearranging thoughts and plans.
“Whatever your reason may be, consider breaking free of societal norms and take a year to expand your world view and/or help other people,” Rice said.
Even though gap years aren’t for everyone, they should be taken into consideration for anyone who is unsure about their future.