After 12 years of attending classes, many students consider taking a gap year between high school and college. A number of reasons exist to justify taking time away from academics. To make the most of this time off from school, the National Association for College Admission Counseling recommends that students go into the year with a plan and a list of goals to accomplish before the academic pause commences.
Take a Break
One of the primary reasons that students take a gap year is to renew their enthusiasm for academic life. Sometimes the way to be successful at college life is a respite from academic rigors. For the 12 months of the break, young people don't have to think about memorizing vocabulary words for a test, writing essays or completing school projects. However, for students who have applied to and been accepted into a university program, a talk with the school is in order. This may secure a spot for the student in the same program of study the following fall.
Gain Additional Cultural Experiences
Time spent inside the classroom offers students one kind of experience, but the gap year presents the opportunity for students to experience new cultures. Some who take time off from school get involved in traveling. Those who remain in the U.S. might opt to take a nanny job on the East Coast while others volunteer in Africa or South America. These experiences pay dividends beyond the year, including making students more interesting candidates for graduate school in the future. It also introduces them to some ideas about what they might like to major in once they return to school. For instance a young person may develop an interest in studying a foreign language as a result of living abroad.
Learn About the World of Work
The gap year provides a person with more than just an academic break. For some students, it gives them a glimpse into the job world. Most students really only know about attending class and completing homework. Unless they've had jobs in high school, they haven't had the chance to develop some of the necessary skills for future employment. They can use a gap year to take an internship in an industry in which they have interest or to learn how to navigate the world of responsibility and work. Additionally, working in an office not only helps them earn money for daily expenses, but also for school once the gap year is done.
Gap Year Considerations
Taking a gap year provides many advantages. However, some drawbacks exist, too. In order to have a successful gap year, these issues need to be addressed. First and foremost, if students don't have definitive gap-year plans, the time spent may not be productive. Other students may find it hard to return to academia after the gap year and fail to take advantage of post-secondary education. Some students may want to go to school for a year or two and get some core classes out of the way. They can then take a gap year to save money or try to get into a better college, because they'll have the academic experience to back it up.
Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.