The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year
Graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, start a career, get a promotion, and the list of important life to-dos continues. There is a lot of pressure on young adults today to graduate high school, and go straight to college, many of them having no idea what they want to study or do later in life. There seems to be a check list of things to accomplish in order to be successful and happy. Many times this “life check list” leaves young people feeling lost and without a sense of purpose. This often leads many students to graduating college, still not sure of what they want to do or who they are.
In our society, there is a stigma against the idea of taking a break from continuing one’s studies from high school or undergrad. What people do not realize is that taking a gap year has many benefits and can be a very formative period for young people.
The start of college is a struggle for many young people. Students wrestle with the internal struggle of figuring out who they are, what they want out of life, and what the college experience is meant to bring. Meanwhile, they are also feeling like they have to figure out the answers to these questions in only four years; this can be a major source of stress and anxiety.
That is why Anna Holt, a freshmen at Fordham University in New York City, N.Y., took a year between high school and college to study abroad and then work on a farm in Arizona through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) organization. In a personal interview with Holt, she expressed her reasons for taking a gap year and how she grew during that time saying, “I always knew I wanted to go to college, but the application and selection process always seemed too rushed. Taking a year before going to Fordham was a much needed break and during that time I grew and learned in many diverse settings.”
Holt also recommends:
… everyone should take a gap year, whether it be between high school and college, college and grad school or whenever possible. People don’t do it because they feel they don’t have money or time, but the things you learn during that time are more valuable than what you think you are giving up.
Taking a gap year can allow people not to worry about the next step. As Holt put it, “during this time, I didn’t have to have a purpose, and that was okay. I was there to explore and figure out who I was and what interested me.”
Being young is not necessarily about knowing everything or knowing exactly how your life is going to play out; it is about taking everything one day at a time and exploring the world around you. Taking a year, or even just a couple months, to explore oneself and the world should not be overlooked or seen as a waste of time. Many young adults could benefit from a short break from school, and in doing so would, they would be more fully prepared when the time comes to start school or their career.
What do you think about taking a gap year? Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting at me @whatsthesich