The benefits of taking a gap year

Taking a gap year has been considered a luxury accessible only to wealthy college-aged students who want to backpack around Europe, but it has become increasingly popular as more students begin to see its benefits.

The gap year allows students to get on their feet and recharge after putting so much effort into completing the past thirteen years of school.

Adults may think the break allows students to sit around and do nothing, but more times than not students use a gap year to experience the real world, which oftentimes includes working.

I spent my senior year of high school debating whether going to college right away was the right plan. My parents pushed me to start college immediately just as my siblings and most other students do. The pressure caused me to hastily pick a school and major strictly because I thought I needed to, which led to changing my major six times in the three years I’ve been at the University of New Haven. I would have benefited from a gap year to think about what it was I wanted to do.

There are a lot of negative connotations that come with taking a year off, including using the time off to gallivant around the world and make haste decisions without any consideration for the repercussions and many family members discourage it. Research shows that taking a gap year can be helpful.

A Boston University study in 2021 found that more than 60% of college students fit the criteria for having mental health problems including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Taking a gap year allows students to work on their coping skills in order to better deal with mental health issues, reducing the strain those issues cause.

The American Gap Year Association (GYA) says that 90% of students who take a gap year after high school have better communication skills and increased maturity and self-confidence.

Apart from the mental health benefits, taking a gap year can be one of the best financial decisions a young adult can make. College students already struggle with money, so why not take an opportunity to grow your bank account?

Students who work either a full-time job or paid internship during their gap year earn money that can be put toward college, resulting in lower student loans. Many gap year programs are accredited by colleges, including Tufts University, Princeton University and Florida State University, which means a student can complete a gap year course and apply those credits to their degree.

College is not the only place students can socialize and connect with people of different demographics, especially if students spend time traveling. The concept that going to college is the only option is outdated and was formed at a time when going to college was viewed as the only way to be successful.

Not going to college right away is not the end of the world. Taking a gap year carries several other benefits besides being able to save money and working on your mental health. It is something that should be more of an option for all high school and college-aged students. Not going to college isn’t the end of the world. In most cases, it can be a chance to really figure out your own world and find the path that you are meant to follow.