Although college is typically viewed as the next step after high school, it isn't always for everybody. Many students choose to take a year off, commonly known as a gap year, to redefine their goals and experience the world outside of academics. While some argue that a gap year can renew your focus and allow you to investigate career possibilities, others believe that a poorly planned year off can have serious consequences.
Break From Academics
Experiencing the world outside of the classroom can renew your appreciation for school when it's time to return. Holly Bull of the New Jersey School Counselor Association writes that school is often the only way of life graduates know. Whether you spend the year traveling or working, you can get a taste of a lifestyle that isn't organized by semesters and holiday breaks. Taking a year off can also lessen the stress of entering the workforce after college. According to the experiential education organization Carpe Diem Education, gap year students are generally more satisfied with their careers compared to those who take the regular college track.
Bull also states that a gap year can also ease the transition between being dependent on parents and being self-directed. Taking a year off allows students to explore their interests freely for the first time and lets them develop independence and confidence by making their own decisions. In addition, a classroom isn't always the ideal place for students to decide what to do with their lives. The hands-on experiences of working and traveling can let you see if the fields you're interested in have the potential to become careers you'll enjoy.
One disadvantage is that a gap year sometimes results in a loss of academic momentum. Michelle Knoll of Rasmussen College states that while a year off can be refreshing for some, being away from the classroom can result in loss of focus and rusty study skills. Rather than reintroduce themselves into academic life, many students may choose not to go to college at all. The American Gap Association advises that carefully planning your year off can keep you from losing focus and let you return to school with a rejuvenated outlook.
Lack of College Resources
Taking a year off can also create problems when it comes to college applications. During your senior year, guidance counselors, college fairs and teachers are all available for help with your college search. However, applying the year after high school can leave many students on their own for this complicated process. Middlebury College advises seniors to apply anyway, even if they are seriously considering taking a year off. In addition to gaining the experience of applying, some universities may even let you defer your admission if you decide on a gap year.
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