Attending college immediately after high school seems like a normal step for most students. But for others, joining college right away doesn’t feel right. They decide to take a gap year.
Taking gap years is considered beneficial to the student’s personal growth. For starters, it can help you learn and explore the culture outside of your country. It can also provide you with the time and experience needed to make tougher decisions. While gap years are not common in U.S., they are considered the norm in several countries across the world, including Australia and the United Kingdom. In fact, a study by CIEE organization, Harvard College has recorded a 33 percent increase in the number of students taking gap years.
What is a gap year?
A gap year is a year or semester normally taken off between high school and college either for personal and professional writing awareness. It may seem like an easy way out for avoiding assignments in school, but it should not be taken as an opportunity to play video games, sit on the couch all day, and forget about the future. Many students opt for a gap year to experience the real world and learn about different cultures and ways of life.
Gap year options
There are few gap year opportunities out there. Some of the options you may consider include teaching, adventure travel, language immersion, volunteering, outdoor activities, and environmental conservation.
This depends on the choice you make, whether you want to design your own gap year or go with an already established organization to get different career opportunities. If you decide to go with an established organization, try to connect with people who have taken part in the program before. If you’re studying or teaching, find out what you’re expected to do and how to prepare for the gap year. This will ensure you have a productive gap year.
My own experience
When I mention to people that I am on my gap year, there are normally curious and ask questions about what I have been doing during this period. Actually, I have spent the time traveling and working.
The reason why I decided to take an unexpected gap year is that after joining college, I realized that my tuition could not take me until the end of the year. So I decided to defer until the following year and spend the next couple of months working and building up my savings.
Those who take gap years are keen to spend this time boosting their work experience and exploring new interests.
Things to consider
Deciding to take a gap year is a serious decision. So before you decide to defer your semester and venture into the world of discovery, you need to take several things into consideration.
You need to consider whether the gap year is for you; is it cost effective; is the destination right for you; have you done enough research; is the college in agreement with you taking a gap year, and the duration you intend to take. This will help you plan what you want to do and use that time productively.
Gap years comes with several benefits for a student who want to learn more about life in general. It breaks the monotony of being thrown from one academic option to another. But make sure you take to research gap year options, talk with people who have participated in a gap year, and then decide if it’s what you want.