To a high school student, taking a year after graduation away from homework, tests, and 7 AM alarms can be very appealing. For this reason, along with many others, the amount of high school students thinking of taking gap years in the US increased to approximately 35 percent in 2017 according to a survey done by TD Ameritrade. But could this increase be preventing students from returning to school and finding satisfaction in their future careers, or is life away from school truly an important experience students need to have before deciding on a career path? Ultimately, gap years have proven themselves to be beneficial to the development of young adults in numerous ways.
Whether they are spending their time traveling, interning, or working, a gap year can be an incredible way for young adults to discover themselves outside of their student identity. Choosing a major is often an incredible obstacle and difficult choice to make for college students because they lack the experience to be able to definitively say what they will want to spend the rest of their lives doing. Through a gap year, they may discover this information about themselves, working in the field rather than sitting in a classroom and learning about different career choices.
Some students will spend their gap year traveling and exploring other parts of the world. Doing so can have an incredibly positive impact on the development of one’s character, by expanding socially and gaining cultural sensitivity, as well as potentially learning a new language. I personally intend to take a gap year to become an Au Pair in France. Au Pairs work as live-in nannies, taking care of children and sometimes participating in housework in exchange for an hourly wage as well as housing and sometimes includes access to a car and even language classes. This can be a great way to more easily absorb a new culture and language, while also working and making money that could be put towards future college tuitions and necessities.
They fear that breaking out of the cycle that is limited to high school, college, and then work, will ultimately destroy what our society is built upon.
Many shy away from this dramatic break in life, because they fear that breaking out of the cycle that is limited to high school, college, and then work will ultimately destroy what our society is built upon. To a certain extent, they are not wrong. Taking a gap year is a big decision, and students considering it should seek advice from a counselor in the College and Career Center (CCC). However, if breaking this rigid cycle leads to adults who are more confident in themselves, and who, on average, graduate college with higher GPA’s and more developed expectations of their futures, then this could in no way have a negative impact. Gap years allow students to seamlessly transition into mature, well-rounded adults.