Taking a Gap Year
BY SAHANA PRABHU '23
What is a gap year? Simply put, it is a break, typically the duration of an academic year, that students can take off from college or high school to pursue other passions and relax the stress of academics. With many students taking gap years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that the popularity of taking one is at an all-time high. Although there are some cons to taking a gap year, including losing motivation and financial issues, many students can ultimately achieve happiness, fulfillment, and decisiveness through one, improving the quality of their lives.
Firstly, taking a gap year benefits a student's mental health, seeing as they can fully focus on what they want to pursue and take a break from the stress that comes with education. Students may also apply for internships, which can provide leadership opportunities and help them define their skill sets; this can boost their confidence and ease their transition into a job. If a student decides to pursue a job, they can also make money while learning the essential skills of financing and time management. Although gap years are certainly a learning process for everyone, they have proved to benefit many people who plan to go back to college.
In addition, students can also pursue passions that they may not have acted on before, giving them fresh insight on their goals. Those who go to college after a gap year are more confident in what they want to major in and can manage their dorms and jobs well because of the year they took off to build these skills. Moreover, a gap year doesn’t have to just be a year; it can extend into multiple years or lead to the decision of not returning to higher education at all. Some people are not interested in attending college, so taking a gap year might be a good idea to figure out what they plan to do going forward. No matter what direction one decides to go in, a gap year helps one be decisive in making their choices about their future.
On the other hand, there are people who oppose taking a gap year, believing it causes students to fall behind and get sloppier with work. They argue that a student who takes a gap year might become lazy and unmotivated; however, it is important to realize that taking a break is essential to maintaining mental health. For example, people can revisit important aspects of their lives, develop new hobbies, or spend time with family, helping them feel happier in general. Additionally, taking time to improve oneself outside of school should not be deemed as shameful. In fact, time off can help one put their goals in perspective and decide what they truly want in life. Another practical argument against taking a gap year involves financial concerns, but gap years can actually be very productive financially since instead of paying for education costs, one can earn wages with jobs or internships. A break should not have such negative connotations if a person finds it beneficial.
Taking breaks is a part of life, and taking an extended one after high school or graduating college is a completely valid thought process for all of the aforementioned reasons. Stresses should be subdued before they work to the detriment of one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. In short, the positives of improving mental wellness and becoming more decisive and mature outweigh some potential downsides, many of which being common misconceptions. In short, a gap year is to the benefit of a student’s happiness and allows them to advocate for what they truly want to do with their lives.