After twelve years in grade school, most students find the prospect of taking a gap year beyond exciting. It makes sense: Why dive into the next level of education (more papers, more deadlines, more tests), when you could spend a year enjoying your relationships, developing yourself, and giving back to society?
So glad you asked! Here are four pros and four cons students commonly run into during their gap year. Hopefully, after taking all the factors into consideration, you’ll be able to make an informed and rewarding decision for your future.
1. Go Travel
The gap between high school and college provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take advantage of your freedom and explore the world. Many students find this experience life-changing, broadening their horizons and allowing them to discover more about themselves and their worldview. Later in life, traveling can be difficult to do for more than a week or two at a time if you’re trying to balance college or a full-time job.
2. Find Good Work
Settle down with a solid job, lay low, and put away as much money as possible before starting the next phase of life. College can be unthinkably expensive, but with some savings built up prior to freshman year, you don’t have to be the stereotypical “broke college student.” You might also take this time to find a quality *paid* internship, which may not pay as much but will definitely equip you with valuable life and workplace skills.
3. Build Your Resume
Jumping straight from high school to college doesn’t afford you the option to pursue those unique opportunities that’ll likely take your resume up a notch. Additionally, a diverse portfolio of employment, education, charity work, volunteer work, or travel will make you a much more likely candidate for a future job opportunity or elite degree program than you may have been otherwise.
4. Crystallize Your Goals
Many students begin their college education without a sure understanding of what they’d like to do with their lives. After all, it is a huge decision. Spending a year away from school exploring yourself, your faith, and your gifts, often provides a certain sense of clarity and vision for the future. You’ll also have the opportunity to try completely new things and join new communities, which may open up unexpected doors. Either way, you’ll have the chance to crystallize your understanding of who you are, what you’d like to pursue next, and how best to achieve your goals.
1. It’s Expensive
First things first, if you don’t plan to be employed during your gap year, it’s going to cost you a lot of money—especially if you decide to travel. Even unpaid internships can be costly when adding up commuting costs, lunch money, new work clothes, and other factors.
2. The Productivity Vacuum
The fact is, it’s really easy to lose motivation during your gap year. If you don’t have a clear plan on how to maximize your productivity throughout the year, you may wind up watching an incredible amount of Netflix.
3. Goodbye, School...
After a year away from the academic lifestyle and all its accompanying pressures, you may not be inclined to go back. Maybe you’re content with your job or traveling, and simply don’t have it in you to go back to the old routine. This may be okay depending on your life calling but most people find it critical to have a Bachelor’s degree in today’s workplaces.
What’s the real reason you want to take a gap year? Is it because you actually want to grow, experience new things, and contribute to society, or is it because you simply want a year off to veg? If you don’t have a clear reason why you’d like to take the year off, it may be more detrimental than helpful to your long-term growth. Check your heart and don’t be afraid to ask those difficult questions.
Patrick Henry College’s Teen Leadership Camps are an awesome opportunity for students to grow, create new relationships, have fun, and develop a clear vision for the future. Click the button below to secure your spot in this summer's line up!