Taking a break to enjoy life after high school is one of the many pleasures of becoming an adult.
Known as a gap year, the break gives students more time to evaluate their future and try different career paths. It also provides students with time to test the waters on their own before committing to a full class load.
In the 2005 book “The Gap Year Advantage,” authors Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson state, “for most students, gap year experiences have an impact on their choice of academic major and career – either setting them on a different path than before a gap year or confirming their direction.”
There are many benefits for students who decide to take a gap year or a semester off.
Lacking the stress of school after high school can be relieving, and getting a chance to become part of the adult world and make money can be exhilarating.
The Gap Year Association surveyed freshmen at Sydney University about taking a gap year. Over 900 students claimed that taking a gap year helped improve their interest in school.
Another option for students in their gap year is traveling abroad. It gives students a chance to explore different cultures and learn new languages.
There are a lot of programs that allow students to travel to other countries and learn new languages or skills. Most of these programs last around three months, but it depends on the program and type of study.
Global Citizen Year is a resource for researching different programs during gap years. They show many different destinations for a student interested in traveling. They also offer scholarships and financial aid for students who are interested in taking a gap year but are tight on money.
There are also some downsides to taking a gap year in between high school and college.
Some students may struggle to save up enough money to pay for trips abroad. Another struggle for a student going into a gap year is seeing all of their friends move onto college while they take time to work or travel.
Despite some of these internal and external pressures, the next generation of students have ambition and hope for the future.
Lilian Dobson, a home-schooled high school student, doesn’t plan on taking a gap year after she graduates.
“First off, I am graduating early. If I were to take a gap year, I’d still be below the average age for a college freshman, but my main reasoning is college freshman scholarships,” she says. “The only reason why I would take a gap year is to get college credits, but a lot of scholarships are unavailable if you are a transfer student.”
When asked what her plans would be for a gap year, Dobson adds, “I would go to culinary school and definitely get a job. Maybe travel!”
Taking a year off before returning to school can be a difficult adjustment academically.
Anthony Tai, a Hillcrest High School student, doesn’t plan on taking a gap year after graduation. His main concern is just getting school done as fast as possible, so it doesn’t become harder for him later down the line.
“If I take a yearlong break, then I’ll forget a lot of stuff that I learned in high school. If I just stick with school, I don’t lose too much information,” he says. “I’ll be able to get out of college sooner, have a job sooner, and put more money in the bank.”
Many high schoolers think about their financial future after college, but some recent graduates choose to start working right away.
Scott Steinbrenner, a student who graduated from Fredericksburg Christian High School, took a break to work after graduating high school.
“It just wasn’t the right time for me to continue school,” Steinbrenner says. He decided to work before continuing his education.
Being able to work right after graduating is a popular choice for students, yet most choose to work and attend school.
Fern Hearle is a current student at Salt Lake Community College. She decided to work and attend school at the same time after graduating.
“I knew that if I took a gap year I wouldn’t want to go back to school,” she says. “I needed that motivation of just jumping into it, and not having a year of nothing.”
For Hearle, her main concern is keeping her motivation and drive to keep working hard on getting her generals done and out of the way.
Taking time off from school after graduating can be good in many ways. It can allow students to work, travel, and re-evaluate the future. For some students, it works better to start school right away and be done. For others, it can be hard adjusting to a new lifestyle after 12 years of school.