Gap years: valuable exposure

A break from school is not a break from reality

We the editors feel that despite the stigma surrounding gap years, they offer obvious benefits. Society tells us that we, as students, are supposed to enter college directly after graduating from high school. Gap years are labeled as something that we should be ashamed of and therefore avoid at all costs. However, this attitude ignores the many valuable experiences that can be gained during a year long break from school. 

Some people are hesitant to choose to take a gap year because they worry that they will not want to return to school. Many people have found this to be quite the contrary. They are actually more inspired to attend college after their gap year and make the most of the experience. 

Most colleges today even recommend gap years. The yearlong break gives students the opportunity to discover what they truly want to pursue as a career. It gives them time to make sure that they are making the right choice before they spend thousands of dollars paying for classes that do not interest them. It is an opportunity to go out and explore and do the things they really want to while they are still young, instead of waiting until retirement to finally truly live. People say it’s never too late to live your dream, but why wait and chance it?

While many people imagine an expensive, rustic pathways-type gap year that is paid for by parents, a large portion of students are supporting themselves. Students can spend their year volunteering with programs such as Americorps or Peace Corps, where they are allotted a minimal amount of money, just enough for living quarters and food. This gives them an opportunity to travel and also make a difference at the same time. Another common choice is to begin working during that year. 

Entering straight into the workforce after graduating high school is underrated. The ultimate goal of attending college is to gain the knowledge one needs to know in order to get a job. By bypassing the college road marker, students gain hands-on workforce experience. While other students spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn how to work, those that jump right into the workforce are paid to both learn and work simultaneously. 

So while you’re imagining your future post-high school, consider taking a gap year. Maybe it’s not for you, but it’s better to learn that before you miss the opportunity.