As you approach the end of high school, the world is your oyster. It seems like you can finally get out of the town you grew up in and go, learn, see, explore, live. Most young adults at this phase will decide to be college-bound. Yet, I encourage students to consider an alternate form of education: a gap year.
You may feel as though you aren’t ready for college, are unsure of a career path, or simply need more time to figure it all out. These are all valid reasons set aside a year for yourself to grow personally, academically, and professionally. Not only can this year allow you some time to evaluate yourself and your life, but a gap year can foster great opportunities to help you in your future endeavors.
1. Global Perspective
Taking a gap year broadens your sense of self, and makes you understand what it means to be a global citizen. You will become more culturally aware and return home with a better understanding of the world outside of your “bubble” of home. These cultural and global experiences are aspects that will help you define yourself and your life. You will always bring these international experiences into all that you do: whether that be your career or college. Having a respect for other cultures creates a sense of gratitude and understanding for the opportunities and challenges your life will hand you. I think that it is vitally important to understand the world as a whole, and gaining a global perspective will help you become a valuable employee, educated student, and well-rounded individual.
Though traveling and taking time off for yourself is necessary and very beneficial: you may find yourself lacking a purpose. This is a good thing. Feeling as though you need more out of life than simply to travel and explore will push you to dig deep and discover what it is you’re passionate about. Taking time to really discover what your life goals/purposes are will benefit you in the long run as you’ll know that the major/career you chose was the right one for you. You’ll find yourself loving the fact that you took time to discover what it is you want to work towards through college, a career, and life.
3. You’ll Miss Learning
A common reason to take a gap year is due to the concept of “burn out”. Many students experience this exhaustion of years of hard work taking a toll on their ability to focus and continue to have a drive. Taking a year break from formal education will allow you to reset and return to college more driven and motivated than ever before. Also, you’ll likely see yourself unexpectedly missing how school pushes your mind. So often students are forced to start college immediately without this being a choose they actively pursue. Choosing when you’re ready to start university and to miss learning is a great opportunity to really value and desire your education.
An obvious aspect of taking a gap year, but arguably the most important. Taking a gap year really allows you some time to work on yourself. You’re forced outside of your comfort zone into unknown territory. You’ll be pushed to advocate for yourself, make friends, ask questions, and experience uncertainties. A gap year will help you find a greater sense of self, foster confidence, and allow you to reflect upon the person you are, and the person you want to become.
5. Resume/College Apps
I hate to encourage doing something as a resume booster (and this shouldn’t be your driving reason to take a gap year) but it’s no lie that this year of self-development is very impressive on paper. Your application/resume will stand out to employers and admissions offices. A gap year is unique and will spark a conversation about how it helped you grow, what you spent your time doing, and why you chose this path. If you feel the need to really boost your resume through a gap year, strongly consider finding job shadowing/volunteer opportunities that will pertain to whichever academic/professional path you want to purse. This allows you some time to really solidify if this is the path you want, as well as gain some valuable experience.