The untold truth of gap years

Alison Razafimandimby

More stories from Alison Razafimandimby


One of the most common misconceptions is that gap years always involve backpacking to certain places. It’s not all about that.

Entering high school, there’s this immense pressure that students feel with questions asked about their future. What college will you attend? What’s your dream job? What do you plan on studying? What degrees do you want to earn? As much as they’re all valid questions, it’s still intimidating to think about the future and realize that your childhood is coming to an end. There will be many incidents where students feel as if they are not ready and that is more than okay. However, as much as they should push themselves, they shouldn’t constantly worry about getting into college.
“There’s definitely this huge misconception that you have to get into college once you graduate otherwise you’re not going to have a future. That’s not true at all. Nobody really talks about gap years but they exist for a reason,” junior Camilla Veal said.
Gap years aren’t meant for students to escape from education. Although this could be the case, it’s not all about backpacking around Europe and having fun.
“Gap years offer the kinds of opportunities that colleges don’t. If you’re traveling, you’ll get to experience other cultures and mature in terms of getting to know who you are as a person. Personally, I wouldn’t take one. I’d have a hard time going back to school if I took time off so it would just be easier for me to jump into that college lifestyle,” junior Alicia Barnett said.
Just like Barnett, many other students fear losing momentum in terms of devoting their time to education. That and the idea of being left behind from their peers.
“I know I couldn’t handle leaving my family and friends behind. I would just feel sort of left out especially if everybody I knew was going to college. But if you feel like branching off from everyone else at an earlier stage, then by all means go for it. It’s not even a bad thing to do, I just couldn’t see myself doing that,” junior Ella Murray said.
Gap years can be taken before, in between, and after college. For students who are afraid that it will negatively affect their chances of getting accepted, taking a gap year can actually do the opposite. It all depends on what they decide to do. Most colleges appreciate students who take a year off to pursue their personal interests and develop different skills. If they will pursue a gap year, they should have a clear plan of what they will do for the next 12 months. Otherwise, if students aren’t going to make much use of their time off, taking a gap year might not be as beneficial as they’d hope for it to be.
One of the main things students should consider is the financial cost that comes along with taking a gap year. Students may have to give up the idea of earning a scholarship or any other kind of financial aid. But then again, with a year spent away from college they have more opportunities to work and possibly save money for when they do decide to go back to college.
Gap years obviously come with pros and cons but whether or not a student should take a step back from education, is entirely up to the individual. Everybody has different interests and the only person who truly knows what’s best for them, is themselves.