Taking a Gap Year: Good For Student Education or Detrimental? Point

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Taking a Gap Year: Good For Student Education or Detrimental? Point

by Michael Pruchanskiy

by Michael Pruchanskiy

by Michael Pruchanskiy

Elaina Martin, Opinions Editor

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   The average undergrad student will be able to look back on sixteen years of constant schooling. This is harrowing, especially considering many of these students will go straight into graduate school and rack up two to three more years of education. College-going young adults spend the majority of their lives in school — with little time for a break. This can be stressful and overall lower the quality of their lives. However, students have the option to take a year off in between high school and college or college and grad school. Taking a so-called “gap” year can allow for students to travel or work a full time job before going into deep studies.

   School is stressful, and college is no exception. For students that don’t feel they are ready to take on the challenge of undergrad or for the transition from high school to college, a gap year can be used to recharge and observe how the world works. Students can stay in their hometowns or volunteer across the country. This allows them not only to gain insight into other professions, but to be productive within their communities or get to know other communities, which fosters the responsibility necessary for a good college experience.

   Students can also take this time to travel — an opportunity they may never have again due to responsibilities in the future. A website about being a worldly citizen explains the benefits of traveling during a gap year as providing a chance to learn about other cultures and languages, improve one’s self, and possibly discover new passions.

   College can also be very expensive, so students that take a gap year may have the opportunity to enter the workforce and make some extra money before committing to full-time studies. Gaining work experience doesn’t only provide the benefit of extra cash, however. According to a college informational site, just-graduated high school students often don’t have a clear idea about what they want to do with their lives. Spending a year working might provide insight into the type of jobs high school graduates might want to end up obtaining or sway them away from certain careers (valuecolleges.com). These students will go into college later, but with a better idea of what they want to do and a stronger sense of their purpose.

   Some students might choose to take a gap year in between college and grad or medical school. UC High Alumna and UCLA Graduate Emily Siegler said, “Taking a gap year between earning my bachelor’s degree from UCLA and going on to medical school gave me the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience in the medical field that was far more comprehensive and autonomous than the volunteering I completed as an undergraduate. When it came time to interview at schools, I had many real-world stories and reasons to provide as to why I wanted to become a doctor, and these stories came from my gap year.”

   Studies have shown that students who take a gap year actually do better in their collegiate studies than do students who went straight into college. Psychology Today reported that one-third of college freshman don’t return for their sophomore year, and that a staggering fifty-nine percent graduate given six years (psychologytoday.com). This is largely due to burnout, a condition that causes students to lose complete interest in school and ultimately look for ways to avoid it. A gap year allows for students to refresh and almost start over, with a new vigor for their studies and a renewed  perspective on the importance of school.

   Between the stresses of life, needing to gain experience, and entering the workforce, a gap year can offer a plethora of benefits to any student. For whatever purpose, it’s worth considering.

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