Taking a year off between high school and college may seem like a disastrous decision. Some people think it is lazy or that you may wind up never going back to school, but taking a gap year is actually a very smart idea. A year off between studies can really benefit some students and motivate them to study even harder when they do return to their studies.
1. It gives you real world experience.
Let’s face the facts: college is absolutely not the real world. The “college bubble” is a real thing. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with college, but you aren’t being thrown into the real world after high school when you go off to college.
Taking a gap year between high school and college gives you more of an opportunity to see what the real world is like and what life without school is like. Sure, you may still be living with your parents and not paying your own bills, but a gap year gives you the opportunity to work and save money. This money can help pay for school if you do decide to go to college one day.
I did not take a gap year off, but I did take a semester off. I worked a lot and saved even more. It also instilled a very strong work ethic in me, and made me more prepared for what would come when I have a real career.
A friend of mine chose to travel during her gap year by volunteering in underprivileged areas around the world. There are numerous programs that offer opportunities like this.
2. It shows you what you really want to do in life.
So many of the people I graduated high school with went off to college not knowing at all what they wanted to do. Many of them wasted their money on studies they weren’t particularly interested in.
As part of my semester off, I volunteered at my local hospital, which really solidified what I wanted to do: become a nurse. A gap year, if it is spent well, can give you clarity and experience of the career you want to pursue—more than college can in some ways. A gap year may even show you that college is not right for you.
The belief that everyone needs to go to college to be successful is so wrong. When you do not have school on your schedule, it gives you a lot of opportunities to learn about yourself.
3. It helps you to find yourself.
Early adulthood—and especially just after you graduate from high school—can be a very confusing and sometimes scary time. It certainly was for me. It was really tough adjusting to such a significant change in my life, and I didn’t really know who I was.
The gap semester that I took was the best thing I could have done for myself. I learned so much about myself as a person, and actually had time to focus on myself and my well-being.
I think that having time to focus on yourself is extremely important at this stage of life. I was able to get in touch with my different interests, explore them further and really blossom in some of these activities. Before I took my semester off, I was extremely lost and confused. Afterwards, when I went back to school, I felt a lot more confident and sure of myself thanks to my experience.
Taking a gap year may not be for everyone, but those who choose this path are not lazy or unmotivated. It can actually be the opposite if you spend the time learning to understand yourself better and doing things to better yourself and broaden your interests. In short, it can motivate and better prepare you for life and a career—whether you follow it up with academic studies or not.
What are your thoughts on taking a gap year/semester? Comment below.