By Wilma Wei
As we enter college application season in LGHS, many seniors have to make the critical decision on whether they will choose to immediately enter college, or if they will take a gap year. For me, if gap years are mentioned to family, friends, or relatives, I’ll see a small sneer or look of disdain on their faces. Many may believe that a gap year is a waste of time, but if that year is used wisely, it can truly be an eye-opening experience and a catalyst for personal growth. Negative connotations give gap years a bad reputation – they’re not just for “rich kids,” and may be a better option for some than others.
There are endless opportunities to choose from in a gap year; for starters, traveling is a common activity and a learning experience just as enriching as going to college. For some, taking a gap year might even be a better experience for those who are hands-on learners – some probably thrive more in learning through experiences than sitting in lecture halls in a university. To deal with the issue of expenses during travel, using hostels and calculating minimal expenses is a realistic way to travel the world during a gap year. Exploring new places introduces one to a new culture, new people, and leads to a greater sense of independence and freedom.
Participating in an internship can be a valuable experience during a gap year. Working helps many people accumulate money to help pay for college tuition in the future, or helps people build up work experience. Working and interning are both incredibly important opportunities that build resumes and life skills to prepare one for the future.
Gap years also provide a good amount of time for someone to figure out what they want to pursue as a future major in college. Having an extra year allows for exploration and experimentation in a variety of topics and subjects, and may help someone discover their true passion. In addition to time to figure out future plans, a gap year also acts as a smooth transition into college; after traveling and working, one should have built up enough life skills and experience to succeed.
A student who takes a gap year should be just the same as someone who chooses to move on to a university or college right after graduation. Gap years shouldn’t have stereotypes centered around them, but rather be seen as an equal alternative to pursuing college right away. Exploring the world, interning, or volunteering across the globe during gap years are enriching, immersive experiences that help young adults prepare for the future as much as college does.