Going straight from high school to college without break is the norm for most students, but it doesn’t have to be that way. More and more people take a gap year after high school to relax and accomplish personal goals.
Here are a few pertinent pros and cons of taking a gap year after high school before college.
What Is A ‘Gap Year’?
A gap year, quite simply, is taking a year-long break between major life stages.
Many students take a gap year after their high school graduation. There are plenty of reasons to do so including:
- Volunteering/Community Service
- Learning A New Language
Think of a gap year as a carefully considered pause to pursue what you want for a limited time.
Gap Year Pros
Time To Think
You finally have some time to consider what’s next.
Lots of students move straight into college with no idea of what they want to do. Very often then students end up with two options after college:
- Sticking with whatever career they can get with the degree they chose
- Going back to school for a different degree
Taking that time to really consider what you want to pursue will be worth it in money later on.
Gain World Experience
Use this chance to travel.
Many people start their careers right after college graduation. As a result, it’s difficult to find time to see the world and take in new cultures. Using that gap year to travel around helps you experience:
- New groups of people
- New cultures
- Different ways of living
You can build up an appreciation for the world that will enrich your life.
Find an entry-level job or internship.
Taking a year to work a job before college is a good idea for a couple of reasons:
- You can make money while figuring out a potential career path
- Future employers may hire you faster vs recent graduates with only a degree
Build your work ethic and get ready for the real world ahead of time.
Learn To Be Independent
Be on your own and learn what it takes to survive.
A gap year lets students feel freedom from authority figures for the first time. No more teachers or parents directly guiding your actions. You can take this time to:
- Work A Temporary Job
You will have to learn how to manage money and your daily needs. No more meals cooked for you or laundry washed. Use this taste of freedom to grow as a person.
Develop New Skills
Pursue a hobby or interest that’s never been possible before.
There are a lot of life skills you can work on in a year. Examples include:
- Public Speaking
- Second Language
These skills not only enrich your life but can also become assets in your future career after college. Moreover, they can help you relax when life gets stressful, in either college or career.
Gap Year Cons
Lack Of Support
Not everyone will get your decision.
Gap years are becoming more popular across the country, but not to everyone. You may find resistance from family, friends, and teachers not understanding your choice. It’s understandable though.
Don’t worry, take the time to educate your close ones with your plans. The more they understand your decision making and plans, the more they will show their support.
Prolonging your education will make it more expensive.
If money is tight and you only have so much budgeted for college, a gap year could potentially eat into that money.
However, if you’re still not sure about what to study, that year can help you lock down a career / academic path much quicker. Either way, be prepared to either work hard to keep your finances in check for school afterward.
Easy To Get Lazy
If you’ve always needed outside motivation, then a gap year could screw things up.
Remember that a gap year is for you to use for growth. If you literally devote it to doing nothing, then you’re just wasting time and money. That’s why it’s important to really think and plan what you want to accomplish with it.
Planning Take Work
No one is going to plan out your year for you.
If you don’t like making decisions then the year will go to waste. Remember that your friends and family aren’t responsible for your actions now. It’s all up to you.
Do you want to work? Travel? Take up new skills? These are decisions you have to make all by yourself. Be decisive or don’t take the year off.
Tests Your Maturity
Are you ready for this new responsibility?
Let’s say you want to travel during your gap year. Consider these questions:
- Are you ready to be alone while abroad?
- How nervous do you feel?
- Do you feel prepared to leave for months at a time?
If you’re unsure or feel overwhelmed, it’s ok. These could be signs that you’re not emotionally ready to make this jump. That’s why it’s important to think about taking a gap year well before your graduation.
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