Benefits of a Gap Year

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The general progression of events seems to be: graduate high school, attend college; but this may not work for all students. Some may choose to opt for a college alternative, rather than attending college. Others may have a desire to continue their formal education, but want to take a year off before doing so. This time off is often referred to as a gap year.

While it may make some parents uneasy, there are many benefits of a gap year.

Allowing some space between high school graduation and college enrollment allows teens time to:

Take ownership of their education

One of the biggest benefits of a gap year that I’ve witnessed is that it allows young adults the time and space they may need to take ownership of their educations. Many teens go through high school with the expectation that they will enter college the fall following graduation. They’re on that trajectory because it’s what is expected of them.

Oftentimes, in that situation, teens arrive at on campus not quite ready for college and more interested in the lifestyle than the academics. They’re looking forward to living away from home and enjoying the freedom that offers. There’s nothing wrong with being excited about those aspects of college life, but some students may allow academics to take a backseat.

However, young adults who have taken a year off from school often enter college because they recognize the personal benefits of doing so.

I have a friend whose son went into the workforce after high school graduation. It only took a couple of months of 40- and 60-hour work weeks for him to decide that if he was going to work that hard, he wanted to get an education and do something he enjoyed.

Because he has seen the personal benefits of a college degree, he has taken ownership of his education and is much more committed to the work involved than he’d have been if he’d gone straight into college simply because it was expected of him.

Figure out their career aptitudes and goals

Another benefit of a gap year is that it gives teens some time to figure out their career aptitudes and goals. Many students graduate high school without a clear picture of the profession they’d like to pursue. This lack of direction can result in switching majors and taking classes that they may not ultimately need. Because the majority of homeschooling families are single income, most would agree that tuition and books are too expensive for students to be taking classes that they don’t need.

A gap year can be used to volunteer, intern, or do entry-level work in the field in which teens think they’d like to work, giving them a more accurate picture of what the field really entails.

Earn money for college

While there are options for financial aid and scholarships, many students may be responsible for some portion of their college expenses. A gap year provides an opportunity for teens to earn money to pay college expenses and avoid colleges loans. Graduating debt-free can make a gap year well worth the time invested.

Travel

A gap year can also provide an opportunity for young adults to travel. Taking time to immerse one’s self in the culture of other countries (or even other regions of one’s own country) can provide valuable life experiences and a greater understanding of our world and its people.

A gap year can allow a young adult time to travel before the responsibilities of career and family make doing so more expensive and difficult to plan.

Be more prepared for college

Some teens may need an extra year to be fully prepared for college. Events such as personal illness or family crisis may have caused a teen to fall behind academically. Teens with learning struggles may need a bit more time to complete their high school coursework. For these kids, the gap year may be treated more as a fifth year of high school, but without carrying a full course load.

While a student is working on courses to complete his high school transcript, his schedule may allow him more time to invest in other gap year experiences, such as working, volunteering, or traveling.

A gap year is an excellent option for allowing students time to define their goals or gain life experience so that they are prepared to enter college with a plan and a purpose.

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Bales, Kris. "Benefits of a Gap Year." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2016, thoughtco.com/benefits-of-a-gap-year-3859832. Bales, Kris. (2016, February 11). Benefits of a Gap Year. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/benefits-of-a-gap-year-3859832 Bales, Kris. "Benefits of a Gap Year." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/benefits-of-a-gap-year-3859832 (accessed November 20, 2017).