Gap Year | Teen Ink

Gap Year

June 2, 2008
By Anonymous

Are you a senior questioning weather to go to directly to college or to take a year or two off? A gap year is a year, usually between high school and college, when people work or travel or both. The gap year originated in the United Kingdom in the decade after the Second World War. The first gap years started in the United Kindom when the baby-boomer generation headed to India on the Hippie Trails inventing the ‘independent travel market’ (Wikipedia).The concept of a Gap Year is growing in all age groups in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The US is bound to become the next name on the list with the rise of a neccesity to aquire a passport for international travel. Although right now the gap year in America isn’t seen very often, with people going directly from high school to college and then straight into work, it is on the rise and you should participate in it and help it to become more popular.

The first reason why you should consider taking a year off before college is that you will give yourself a break from all of stuff that you have to deal with in school. One example would be homework. You wouldn’t have to plan your day with at least 30 minutes for every class for homework. Also, you could go worry free about having your grade drop because you forgot to do an important assignment. Another example would be tests. All of those tests you have to take throughout school can make a person really stressed out. In taking a gap year you can forget about studying, doing reviews, and all of that junk. You can take a year to clear your mind. A further example would be environment. In most high schools there is a lot of drama and cliques. In taking a year off you could get away from it all. If you decided to travel then you could travel to a place where it’s peaceful and quiet, or to a place where people don’t care what you do or look like; they just accept you for you. When you are done with your gap year you are refreshed and willing to return to school.

The second reason why you should take a year off is so that you can think about what you want to do. First, you could explore your job choices. If you wanted to go into say journalism you could get a job that has you working like a journalist, and you can decide if it’s a career that you could truly stick with. Maybe, if you’re unsure about what you want to do for a career you could try out a bunch of different jobs that interest you and decide which one you like the most. Second, you could get opinions. If you plan on traveling, you could ask the new people that you meet what their opinion is. You could ask if they think the college that you’re going to is a good one, if your career of choice suits you, or even if you are really good at that career. Third, you could visit colleges. If you haven’t applied for college yet, you could go to different colleges that you like and see if they are the perfect college. If you have applied for college, you could go and get a better look at the surroundings so you won’t look lost when you start school.

The third reason why you should take a year off is for the real life experience. The first example for real life experience is jobs. John Challenger, an employment guru, said, “Generally when kids are coming out of school, they don’t have much on their resumes. Employers struggle to understand, is this person engaged, involved accomplished? A gap year can be beneficial because it gives recent grads something to talk about” (Chatzky). This shows that in taking a gap year you could build up your resume. You could impress people by getting a stable job for the year, and show that you are dedicated to that profession and are willing to do anything to keep that job. If you have a few jobs on your resume, than you might have an advantage over the competition because you have been in the job circuit before and you know how it works. In addition, you could work on yourself and see if you a truly a people person. If you are not, a gap year could really help you out. A second example of a real life experience is money. Everywhere you go you need money. In taking a year off you could save up for the cost of college or for your living space during your college years. Alternatively, you could go around the area where your college is and find a cheap apartment so you already have somewhere to live before you go to college. That way you are not frantically searching for one a few months before college, and there is a possibility that an apartment could be cheaper than a dorm room at the college. A third example of a real life experience is dreams. Everyone has them and everyone wants theirs to come true. Instead of diving from high school right into college and from college into your job, you could take some time off to do some of the things that you want to do. You could take that vacation, which you know you are going to be begging for in a few years, a little earlier. Alternatively, if there is somewhere exotic that you have always wanted to visit ever since you were a little kid, you could go, and brag about it to all of your college friends later on. Just think of your friends’ faces when they hear that you went to Africa and saw some lions, or that you went to Australia and feed the kangaroos.

Despite all of the benefits in taking a year off, a few people would argue for all of the disadvantages in taking a year off. One example would be that all of your friends would be off at college while you are stuck alone somewhere. Caroline Kurtz, a gap year participant, said, “It’s hard at times to be a year behind my high school friends, but taking that year was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I felt like I gained perspective about what’s important and what’s not. It allowed me to concentrate on actually learning - - not so much in getting ahead” (Chatzky). This shows that a gap year is beneficial in more ways than one. You get to do new things, have new experiences, and still love it. You can leave your high school friends even though it might be hard. When you do manage to see them again, you can tell them about your experiences in the outside world and give them a few tips. You might just be the go to person on the outside world so you would benefit from it more than if you just went straight to college. You could be in a different country or even a different continent. Maybe you are stuck at home with your parents in your small hometown with absolutely nothing to do. Well instead of pouting over your lack of friends, why don’t you go out and try to make some new ones. Go out wherever you are, walk up to someone, and strike up a conversation. Just think if you can make new friends, than you will have even more than when you started out. In addition, if you are somewhere completely different from where you grew up, you could someone’s opinion about the world. Another example would be that you become so accustomed to where you are and what you are doing that you completely blow off college. Instead of taking just one or two years off you decide to take three or four which eventually turns into seven or eight. Why don’t you try planning out what you are going to do for your time off; if you have it all planned out then there is less of a chance that you will fall and not be able to get back up. Plan where you are going to go, what you are going to do, what you are going to see. Planning things out makes it easier to stay on track so you will not veer off the road.

In conclusion, you should think about a gap year. You can forget about school and relax, you can take some time to think about what will make you happy, and you could get a taste of the real world so that you are ready for it when college is over. According to the Education Trust, a non-profit group in Washington DC, only 37% of incoming freshman graduate in four years. (Chatzky). That is right now with people not taking a gap year. If this continues, even more people are going to drop out due to all of the stress of being better academically. Doing all that extra curricular stuff just so that you can get into a better college, which would lead to a better career. In taking a gap year, you help yourself relieve some of that stress. If you’re thinking that you don’t want to take a gap year just out of high school, there is a solution; take your gap year off after attending college for one or two years. That way you know more than when you were in high school, but you also get to have the same experiences of the people who took a gap year. If you are interested in taking a gap year, many organizations can help you. For example at, you can, “Use our checklists, advice and contact links to help plan your route to a life-changing experience” ( In addition, there is a show about gap years. You can go to to find out more about what happens there. So instead of becoming a couch potato before you graduate from high school, get up, go out, and find out what you want to do for your gap year.

Works Cited

Chatzky, Jean. "If Your Kid Wants to Find Himself, Just Say Yes: The gap year--an exploratory hiatus between high school and college--is getting popular. It's a good thing." Money 34.12 (Dec 1, 2005): 40. General OneFile. Gale. Mt Anthony Union High School. 4 May 2008

Garland, Susan B. "The Pause That Refreshes; More students are taking a year off before college for travel or volunteer work." Business Week 3941 (July 4, 2005): 92. General OneFile. Gale. Mt Anthony Union High School. 4 May 2008

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