April 16, 2012
Maybe you're tired of the academic routine. Maybe you're not sure why you're going to college or what you'll do when you get there. Maybe you have the desire to explore far-away places or a career that interests you. If this sounds like you, perhaps now is the time to consider taking a year off between high school and college. This year off between high school and college is called a “gap year”.
A gap year, or “year out”, is the British tradition where high school graduates decide to postpone going to college and instead they spend a year traveling, volunteering, interning and engaging in other forms of experiential learning. Teens in the United States should adopt this British tradition of taking a “gap year” in between high school and college. Taking a “gap year” is not just a year out of school where you sit in front of the television and watch re-runs of TV shows or sleeping all day. While you are out of school for this year make sure you spend your time in an engaging way.
For most Americans the traditional next step after graduating high school is enrolling into college. This causes an extreme pressure on high school graduates to continue on being a full time student whether it is from parents, friends or any other family members. Many students fall into the belief that quickly getting through the next four years of college to obtain a degree is the best way to lead to the beginning of career success and the next phase of their lives. However, dedicating themselves to a university is a task that takes extensive amounts of time with careful and precise planning, which most high school seniors do not have in the busy school year alone. These students may consider taking a gap year. A gap year (otherwise known as a deferred year) is a period of time in which students take a break from formal education in order to travel, volunteer, study, intern, work, perform research, or any combination of these activities. A gap year can be immensely beneficial to students to gain a sense of identity, improve their education, and help strengthen their career choice. Students take a gap year for a number of reasons. Some are just academically burnt out and need a break. Some are unsure of which direction or career path they want to pursue. Others want to travel, study abroad, volunteer and do things they may not necessarily have time for later in life. Still others take a year off to work and save up money in order to afford college.
The biggest plus of a gap year is that many students who take time off before college find that the break from academics enables them to return to the classroom the following fall with improved energy and focus. Some parents and even some students worry that a detour from college may lead to a long-term derailment, but this is rarely the case. Most gappers who take a year off of the academic treadmill are eager to climb back on when the time comes.
“In the United Kingdom, for instance, about 11% of the 300,000 college-bound seniors take a gap year before enrolling. Australia puts up similar aggregate numbers in what's known Down Under as "going walkabout." “(MacDonald, ‘Gap Year’ Before College Gives Grads Valuable Life Experience)
There are many benefits of taking a year off of school after graduating from high school. During this year off there are many changes that happen to students that participate. Most teens mature, have more self-reliance and they become more independent. In secondary school, you probably learned a fair bit about how to be a good student. On the other hand, you likely learned very little about life experience. Gap years can provide students the chance to learn responsibility on a different level. Whether you’re planning a trip around the world or working as a store manager, you’re going to be fending for yourself as an adult for the first time. When it comes time for dorm life or in your own apartment,