by Rachel Holtzman
High school. College. Graduate school. Career. Where’s the break?
More and more students are making the decision to take a gap year between high school and college to define their goals or pursue their passions. The number of students taking this option has tripled since 2005, according towashingtonpost.com. Upperclassmen should seriously consider taking a gap year because it can help students find emotional and academic success after high school.
After four years of pressure over grades and college admissions, students may be so burnt out that they are not ready to immediately take on the challenges of college. According to nbcnews.com, 39 percent of high school students reported feeling extremely stressed; 8 percent were clinically depressed. The American Gap Association said that students who take gap years end up 75 percent happier with themselves and their career choices than their college-bound peers.
A gap year also provides young adults with real-world experiences. According to planetgapyear.com, students who take gap years gain valuable practical skills. Those who learn how to answer phones, balance a checkbook or travel independently develop more confidence in themselves because they gain tools for success outside of a school environment.
According to americangap.org, many parents of teenagers who take gap years report that their children dramatically mature throughout the year. Also, according to planetgapyear.com, gap year experiences teach students to respect and appreciate diversity.
Those who create a productive gap year experience will be more likely to excel once they become college freshmen. According to middlebury.edu, gap years allow students to set goals for their education and pursue their passions. Middlebury College’s Dean of Admissions said that students who take a gap year earn higher grades and take more leadership roles than those who went straight to college. According to cbsnews.com, both Harvard and Princeton have set up their own gap year programs, and many other colleges have publicly supported students who choose to take gap year.
While it is far more popular to attend college directly after high school graduation, gap years provide a host of benefits to a generation of students that has focused almost exclusively on building an impressive college application. A gap year may not be the right experience for everyone, but all students should do the research and structure their future plans accordingly. When planned carefully, a gap year enables students to learn with new enthusiasm and determination.