To take or not to take a gap year?


College Prep Column

To take or not to take a gap year?

By Ariana Arredondo



High school can be a stressful and hectic experience. Senior year is the time to start thinking about options after graduation. Are you going to start college classes as soon as possible or are you going to take a gap year?



A gap year can have benefits, but it’s very easy for that year to turn sour. The reasons many students opt to take a year off from school are because they want a break from the busy and stressful life of a student. Maybe they need time off in order to work and raise money for college, or they feel that if they take a year off and build their resume they can improve their chances of getting accepted into the college of their choice. These are all valid reasons but you have to have a sure plan before you make this decision.



“My message to students is a gap year gives you the chance to smoothly transition between two different life phases, while at the same time trying to figure out who you are, what you want to accomplish, and what your next step(s) in life will be,” said Jonathan Allen, a student at Central Florida University and College Board intern in an online interview. “It’s a time to reflect and take a deep breath and realize all of your hard work. It’s a time for self-actualization.”



If you want to take a break from school during your year off then be aware that you cannot just spend your time binging Netflix shows and eating fast food. Universities are going to want to know what you spent your time doing and lounging around in pajamas will neither impress them or prepare you for college classes. Plan to dedicate time to an internship, a job or volunteering. This is increasingly important if your goal is to make yourself appealing to more prestige universities since a large amount of the admissions process includes high school academic history. You need to be sure to show off any number of skills with your gap-year experience.




“Many speak of their year away as a “life-altering” experience or a “turning point,” said a representative on the Admissions web site for Harvard University. “And most feel that it’s full value can never be measured and will pay dividends the rest of their lives.”



A large number of students have said that they had a better gap year experience after taking a couple of college courses. Once they know a little bit about college life they feel that they are better prepared to make decisions about their education and future during their gap year.



The most important thing to consider is that if you do not have a solid plan and a good reason to take a gap year then it is very likely that you will end up regretting your decision.