The traditional path of college academia after high school is not always the wisest educational plan for a variety of students.
By the end of their high school careers, students will have all the tools necessary to academically succeed in college. However, despite being intellectually prepared for college, nothing can adequately prepare a student for the life beyond adolescence.
A gap year, as explained in the PBS News Hour, is an excellent way for students to come back to college with a refined sense of self and direction in their studies.
While the surrounding stigma of a gap year is that of laziness, this assumption cannot be further from the truth. Gap years, if done effectively, can lead one down a path of self-discovery. This process helps students avoid the inevitable existential dread or slump that usually awaits them halfway through their college career.
By taking a year off to volunteer, intern, or globetrot, a student will come back to the academic world with a drive that can guide them through the next steps of their educational path.
According to the Gap Year Association, 90 percent of students return to college within a 12 months of starting their gap year.
Pursuing a gap year does not necessarily mean a definite stop to school. It simply means taking a break to pursue other avenues of education.
The most common thing students do while on a gap year is travel. Whether it be to somewhere domestic or international, this is a tremendous way to grow as an individual. One is exposed to cultures that are different from their own, forcing them to leave their ethnocentrism behind. During their travels, students will also meet people from all walks of life who will teach them lessons that can only be taught outside of a classroom.
Additionally, students who take a gap year to undertake an internship ready themselves for future careers. This is done simply by students building a resume with practical work experience as well as networking with professionals in their desired field.
Upon returning from their gap year, students will come back with an education that cannot be learned in any college class. A year off to pursue one’s passions will lead to the experiences that will mold one’s value and expand their worldview. Overall, this is an experience each student should undergo before committing to the marathon of a race that is higher education.