Want a Break from School?

Alex Klahn

Are you considering taking a gap year before starting college? It is a largely debated topic among high school students and their parents. Supporters of taking a gap year before college to travel or get a job argue that it can make a student more well rounded by the time they go back to school. Opponents claim that students will be unproductive, making it harder when they return to school.

Why do people want to take a gap year? Some students need a break from school or are unsure about what they want to do with their career and education. Others may want to travel or get some work experience before starting college.  “For the first few months I worked at a school near my home to earn some money. Then in December, I traveled over to Australia and spent 9 months working and traveling around the country, where I sold books door to door and packed hats in a warehouse,” says Richard Pearl, former student of Chesterfield County schools.

How can traveling be educational? Even though one may not be learning in a classroom, it is possible to take in information from the environment and surroundings. Traveling around the world is often found to be even more educational than learning at a school, especially for learning languages and cultures. Traveling allows student to get out of their comfort zone, having to adapt to new surroundings. “While traveling, I experienced other cultures and learned some independence by being on my own in a different country for the first time,” says Pearl.

How can you get career experience before college? Students have the opportunity to do an internship on the career that are interested in. Once they go back to school, they will have some background and experience in that field. An internship gives insight into what this career is really like, helping them determine if it is still appealing to them before committing to it at school.

Even after going back to school, the gap year is still beneficial. “My experiences taught me responsibility. It helped me to focus on what I really wanted to achieve in the future and not just unskilled jobs that I did during my gap year. It also helped me with communication and presentations during school,” says Pearl.

Experiences from taking a gap year can stay with you for the rest of your life. “Traveling taught me to fend for myself and get valuable life experiences. I got to meet people I would never have met otherwise,” says Pearl.

However, there are many opponents to a gap year. Some people argue that once students begin experiencing a world away from school, they will be hesitant to return to the stress. They may start to enjoy the money rather than paying tuition, not realizing their education will get them even further later on in life. Even though traveling is a good experience, it can lead to debt with all the expenses of housing, transportation, and food. It can make it even harder to pay for college once starting again.

Overall, there are both positive and negative aspects of taking a gap year. Recognizing the pros and cons of taking a year off of school is essential in order to decide if this is the right path for you and your education.

Header Photo Courtesy to Alex Klahn 

Photo Courtesy to Alex Klahn

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