This is Why You Should Take a Gap Year

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Sara Ortega, Copy Editor

Ever since I visited Paris for the first time, I told my parents that the only thing I knew for sure after finishing school was living there. As my graduation date approaches, and my deciding upon my future becomes a reality, my mind and heart have started getting filled up with fear and doubts of whether or not I should take a semester off. What will happen if I don’t start college immediately? Will I lose many of my closest friends and family and commodities at home? These are all questions that cross my mind constantly. But what if this experience be the best one of my life?

Taking a gap year after high school is becoming an increasingly popular decision among graduates, and each year, more universities are supporting students who choose to do so. Some proponents have even argued that gap years or semesters off should be mandatory. Every student who has the chance to take a gap year or semester before college should do so to grow personally, socially, and intellectually.

Students graduate from high school at a very young age without even being aware and most decide to start a career without the certainty of who they are and who they want to become.“When I was in high school, I was scared of being alone in general. I grew up very close to my best friends, so I was never myself. I could not differentiate myself from them,” Sofia Mora, TCS 2017 graduate, said. 

According to a 2015 survey conducted by AGA and Temple University, gap-year students have higher career satisfaction than non-gappers. This suggests that gap years change people’s perspectives, allowing them to find themselves and choose the path they want to be in. Also, the higher career satisfaction may be due to the life skills obtained after living away from home, which definitely prepares students for many of the obstacles encountered during college. 

Some students are really decided upon what they want to pursue after high school and therefore, are confident in starting college immediately. However, the social prospect and vision gained by taking a gap year are unattainable otherwise, especially for those who stay in their native countries. Taking the step of traveling abroad opens the doors to many opportunities that make students better versions of themselves by becoming independent. A gap semester or year forces people to get out of their comfort zone and learn skills that not even a university teaches. “Being out of your comfort zone and forcing yourself to speak to people, makes you grow so much as a person. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I changed a lot, there’s a before and after of myself after the trip,” Mora said. Furthermore, interacting with a different culture and establishing new social bonds allows people to grow intellectually by looking at the world from a different angle. This is, understanding that their society’s strict standards are incorrect and that there is more to life than just making yourself fit in.  

According to Best Colleges, schools like Harvard University, New York University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology encourage students to take gap years and allow accepted applicants to defer their admission for a year to do so. The fact that Ivy League universities offer gap year options demonstrates their support for gap years and how even the institutions that are most likely to accept top students, encourage them to go on this experience. The fear of “falling behind” in college is one of the most common reasons why students discard taking a gap year or semester and thus, prefer to leave after college. However, most don’t realize that certain opportunities can’t be wasted and that the future is uncertain, as well as the fact that many of these life skills obtained are key to success in college. Differing entry to college does not mean students will leave education behind but instead, it gives them the chance for self and social improvement.

A gap year is a perfect opportunity to learn a language, and establish different friendships and contacts away from someone’s bubble.“I became very independent. I was a shy person, but the fact that I was living somewhere where I did not speak the native language, I had to figure out ways of getting around,” Mora stated. Learning a new language helps students become more socially integrated into the country they are gapping in and learn to interact with people from different backgrounds. These social skills will make them more effective communicators during college or professional activities such as group projects. Hence, becoming independent and socially capable gives people the ability to have conversations with all types of people and thus, be easily hired for a job. 

Further, going abroad and living alone in another country can be very expensive. As such, one could argue that investing that amount of money is not entirely worth it. Every student who has the possibility of taking a gap year should definitely consider the option of getting outside of their comfort zone to become a more mature and open-minded individual. The opportunity of going abroad while stepping outside of the education system is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that every student should experience in order to grow as a person and enter college better prepared.