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The Benefits of a “Gap Year”

More and more U.S. high school graduates are following the British trend of taking a “gap year” between high school and college because of its many practical benefits. Becoming more focused on a goal, becoming more mature, and better job prospects after graduation are just a few of the great reasons to take a year off. Individuals who take a gap year have an opportunity to travel to a foreign country, get a job where they can earn job experience, money to help get them through school, or volunteer both at home and/or abroad. Not only can a gap year be taken between high school and college, but also between college and a student’s first professional job.

Recently, many U.S. high school seniors made the choice to take a gap year because they want to become more focused on a goal. Colleges are beginning to even recommend taking a gap year because it leads to more motivated students. Many students aren’t sure if college is for them, and for some students, a gap year can tell them if they want to continue on with higher education. If the answer is “yes”, then they become more motivated to succeed in college. A gap year can also help students gain a better understanding of what they want to do with their life. Many high school students are not at all sure of what they want to be “when they grow up”, and a gap year can open student’s eyes to new jobs, opportunities, and experiences. A gap year also gives students a new appreciation for what college is actually for. Many high school students think college is one big party, but a gap year can teach them that college is an opportunity to learn more about both the world they live in and the world around them. Often, high school students are un-motivated, un-sure of their future, and unaware of the real purpose of college; and a gap year can help students resolve these problems before going into university.

The majority of recently graduated college freshman are immature compared to their older peers. If a gap year is spent traveling to another country or just to another part of the country they already live in; students will gain a new appreciation for how others in different parts of the world, and maybe in different parts of town, live. Many students are not aware of how the rest of the world lives, and traveling to other places will help to mature a student. Also, a gap year can teach young adults what the world is like without a college degree. If students decide to work during their year off, they will learn how important a college degree really is, and once they get to college they will work harder to achieve the ultimate goal of a college diploma. Even celebrities are speaking out on the concept of a gap year, “Mike Rowe, host of the cable-TV show “Dirty Jobs,” has a thing or two to say about work and education…Rowe, whose show profiles some of the more challenging sides of blue-collar work, “we've convinced ourselves that ‘good jobs’ are the result of a four-year degree…not all knowledge comes from college.” (Billitteri, 2009) Rowe is just emphasizing the fact that people often can learn just at much, if not more, about the real world when they’re actually living in it as opposed to just hearing about it. Learning more about the world around them, how important a college degree is when applying for professional jobs, and that “not all knowledge comes from college” are all benefits of a taking a gap year between high school and college.

Not only does taking a year off better a student academically, but also in the real world. Most employers are looking for real world experience and if a gap year is spent doing an internship or working, this essential experience can be gained. Real world experience will help a college grad stand out in the crowd. Taking a year of to work can also help students learn how to better work in groups. Working in teams is an integral part in both college and work settings. A student can also benefit from a year off by becoming more cultured, and in turn, more aware of the world around them. Many high school seniors have not been out of the United States of America, and spending a year off in a foreign exchange/study abroad program can help students become more adventurous, cultured, and aware. When a student takes a gap year, they become more prepared for a work environment because they have gained essential real world experience, how to work in teams efficiently, and more about places that sitting in a classroom will never take them.

As the economy gets worse and worse, and the price college rises astronomically, more and more students in the United States are taking a gap year between high school and college. Taking this year off helps students become more focused on a particular goal, more mature, and more competitive in the ever-declining job market. Some of the most prestigious colleges in the nation are even starting to recommend this path after high school because of its many practical benefits, and parents, educators, and students are all warming up to this British trend. Taking a year off is popular in countries such as Denmark, Israel, India, Ghana, and Yemen and the United States is finally starting to catch on.



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