Gap Years Becoming More Common


Design by Katie Lins.

Lauren Lubenow, Senior Staff Writer

Whether students are unsure of what major they want to pursue, want to save up money for a university, or they just want to get a feel for the real world, a gap year may be a good path.
A gap year is when a high school graduate takes a one year break from schooling and does not attend a university directly in the fall. Gap years are becoming more popular because there are many benefits to taking a break from academics.
Now, more than 35 percent of high school students are thinking of taking a gap year, according to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade.
“I chose to do a gap year for two reasons. One, I wanted to build up savings,” said Senior Madeleine McPhee. “Two, I wanted to know what it was like to just live for a while without having to worry about bringing work or school home. I wanted to take some time away from that stress.”
Many students that take a gap year work in order to save up money to attend college the following year. McPhee plans to work full time at Caribou. “I will be building up my own money and seeing what it’s like to be in the workforce. I’m excited to learn more about myself, and what it’s like to be more of an adult,” said McPhee.
Some students spend time traveling or doing other activities. Liam Kruchten said “Starting July 28th, I’m flying to London. From there, I will be doing regular backpacking/traveling to Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal. Around the beginning of September, I will start volunteering through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) on organic farms in France until the end of October. From there, I will volunteer in Morocco for a month, then head back to the states for the holidays starting in November.”
Since many students attend college following high school, students considering a gap year may feel afraid and stressed about what they will do for that year and whether or not they will attend college after the year is completed.
“I was worried that I wouldn’t want to go back to college, but I now realize that if that’s what I decide to do, it’s not the end of the world. I have a full-time job lined up and I believe that everything will be okay,” said McPhee.
Senior Elyssa Pettis said, “the biggest thing i was worried about was my motivation for doing it and not seeing my friends. They will all be going their separate ways while I stay here. It is going to be hard not seeing everyone every day.”
“At the beginning I wasn’t excited because I didn’t know what I was going to do. Now I am beyond excited because I get a year to pursue one of my dreams before I get to go back to school,” said Pettis.
She will be working a full time job and possibly a photography internship.
Even if you do plan to do a gap year, students recommend still applying to colleges.
McPhee said “Apply to colleges anyway. I really didn’t want to, but I’m glad that I did. That way, if you decide not to go, then you can defer, or if they don’t let you do that, odds are if you apply again, you’ll be accepted.”
Though there are many benefits to taking a gap year, a lot of students feel pressured by family or friends to continue their education right away, which is not necessarily for everyone.
“We really grow up in a system that everyone thinks they need to follow, like we have to go to elementary, middle, and high school, then to college. Not many people realize we do have this choice and freedom to just take a break and focus on ourselves,” said Pettis.
“This country has almost a 50 percent dropout rate and I think that part of this enormous number is due to so many going through 13 years of school and then continuing to do four more right away, with little to no time to explore the world or yourself,” said Kruchten.
“School isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Focusing on your mental health is very important for a happy future. You will learn to find the things you love,” said Pettis.