Gap year a great alternative to starting college

March 9, 2010 — by Robin Liu and Grishma Athavale

As seniors end their last year of high school, what comes ahead is the next big step: college. Students leave for a new place, somewhere with no one they’ve known for the past 18 years. It’s a serious transition that determines your future, but what if you’re not ready?

Fortunately, high school graduates do not all have to take that path. For those who aren’t ready for college, there is something called the gap year, a 12-month break before making the transition to college. More and more students are choosing to wait a year before college, and it’s no surprise why.

Perhaps a student has no idea what he wants to study. Rather than spend the first year of college completely unsure of what educational path to take, having a gap year would leave plenty of time to explore interests and find a possible major. The student could do philanthropic work in this time by traveling to a third world country or even remaining here in the U.S and help out in hospitals and educational facilities.

This will allow students to discover how they want to spend the rest of their life. Many students nowadays don’t declare majors when they enter colleges and those that do often change them after a year or two into college. Gap years allow students to discover themselves and see what they want to devote their time to.

In addition to being academically ready, students may wait until they feel ready to take on the responsibilities of being independent. Not all people are mature by 18, and putting off college may be beneficial. Students can spend the year learning basic skills such as how to cook and do the laundry in order to have the knowledge of accomplishing daily tasks. Or maybe after going through four stressful years of high school, students may want a year off to prepare for the academic challenges ahead. With the ever-increasing costs of tuition, it’s important for students to be completely prepared before entering college.

Taking a year off doesn’t always mean you need more time before college. Maybe there’s something that you’ve always wanted to try before going to a university, but there was never any time during high school. Gap years allow students to take on jobs, community service or activities to gain experience and confidence. These experiences will make the students a well rounded and knowledgeable person, experienced in a variety of different fields and situations.

Numerous programs exist for those interested in taking a gap year. Students can apply for internships and explore possible career paths, or travel and gain the experience of living on their own. Although it may seem like just a year to relax and escape school work, gap years can make all the difference in getting a worthwhile college education.

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