Consider taking some time off before starting college to explore the world, make massive money, and most importantly, figure out what profession you want to pursue in the future. This is known as a gap year, and it is during this time that students realize they may need time to collect their thoughts before moving on to the next critical stage of their lives. The statistics of gap years are becoming more common, and “the cumulative enrollment of all organizations who reported their data showed a 38% increase from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021” (Gap Year Association). Today’s generation aspires to be influencers or celebrities, while others strive to operate in the workforce. Individuals are indecisive about their future careers as they are pressured to decide what they want to do so quickly. A gap year is something that more students should consider taking because it will help them to accumulate wealth, as well as provide a mental health break, and obtain work experience.

First and foremost, students should consider taking a gap year as it can generate wealth. Students who opt-in to taking a gap year can “earn more money to defray the eventual cost of tuition or need to help support parents who have lost their jobs” (West). Students may begin to save and accumulate funds during their year off to avoid incurring substantial debt in the future. Aside from working to avoid debt repayment, “Financial aid can be a big deal with a gap year, and there can be some ways out of the loop of overweighing payments for families that are enrolled in college simultaneously. These students can gain a lot in savings and no, it’s not just a year off expenses for privileged kids” (Lieber). Working during one’s gap year isn’t the only way to make money but possessing financial assistance with the involvement of one’s family could indeed truly potentially minimize financial burdens. When it comes to applying, attending, and graduating from college, the financial sector is a significant problem for not just students, but also families.

Secondly, students should consider taking a gap year before entering college because they will be capable of adapting their own skills to build a resume for themselves throughout the workforce. Prior to her arrival at Harvard, a student who took a gap year (which, ironically, Harvard supports and has a particular association dedicated to gap year students) made the most of her experience. This young lady (of Mexican descent) had the opportunity to visit Mexico, which opened her eyes to a new world of cultural understanding and the primacy of being appreciative of what she has. She was also fortunate enough to have had a previous trip experience in Milan, where she enhanced her Italian and had been able to learn about product design and operate on her teamwork and communication skills. On her quest, she even managed to inspire others, all while discovering herself (Student Voices). Students investing time in character development as protagonists do in fictional writing is fine since most people start at the bottom and work their way up, just like the young Harvard student did. Malia Obama even took a gap year to go alone to Bolivia and Peru and to intern at Weinstein Co “That means no five-star hotels or fancy buses, but rather homestays with local families, volunteer work, trips on public buses and often, language immersion” (Skiba). She was able to construct a future for herself apart from her fame and wealth. Choosing a gap year allows students to uncover skills they didn’t realize they possessed and put them to good use in their future.

Finally, students should be more receptive to taking a gap year since it allows them to take advantage of a mental health break. High school can be mentally challenging enough, but the transition to college will be much more stressful. It is critical for students to remember to take time for themselves during this time, which a gap year will undoubtedly provide. “Faced with the fast pace of growing up today, some students are distressed, engaging in binge drinking and other self-destructive behaviors” (New York Times). School stress can contribute to a pupil’s adverse psychological mind frames. Gap years should not only be used for academic purposes, but also for social and emotional well-being; they “are frequently recommended for young adults who are dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and process addictions” (Trails Momentum). Gap years ease people who are dependent and need a mental recharge after dealing with past trauma (Viner). From an enticing commute to the opportunity to attain a sense of identity and maturity over the course of the year, this empowers the student’s growth and accountability, cultivating a healthy and productive lifestyle.

There are myriad misconceptions about gap years, including the apparent drawbacks of plunging behind in your studies and social status in school. Although it’s natural to feel as if you’re descending alone, this shouldn’t be enough to discourage you. Additionally, “You might see your friends posting pictures of their new dorm rooms or tweeting about their first college classes. It’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind when people you know are moving forward with college” (Rosa). Over time, students come to terms with the fact that they will not be able to interact with their friends on the same level in college, but that they will be separated after college anyway, and this experience supports the process of coming to terms with that reality. If it’s all about investing time in yourself, gap years shouldn’t revolve around someone else’s life plans, and with today’s accessible communication through technology, trying to keep up with others would not be a dilemma whatsoever (Rosa). During someone’s gap year, if they use their time management wisely, they should be able to reconnect with old friends while also finding time to socialize with new people. You broaden the size of your network and fill it with long-term relationships. Become wiser and ahead of the game, not just academically, but also in terms of being equipped for the real world and what the future holds.

Although it may appear that a sabbatical year is “just a year,” the decision to take one can have long-term consequences — positive, negative, or both — that will follow you through college and into your career. If a gap year is used wisely and seriously, the individual will go on to achieve greatness after their gap year. Harvard and other universities are even vocal supporters and proponents of this movement. Overall, there will be highs and lows, but remember that time out is not the same as time off.

Works Cited

6 potential cons of taking a gap year (and why they’re ok.) Go Abroad. Retrieved 15
February 2022.

Annual state of the field program provider and Gap year counselor report 22 15 February 2022.

Bridging the gap: My year of deliberate decision making. Harvard College. 14 December

Eilperin, Juliet. “Malia Obama Part of the Growing Wave of Students Taking a ‘Gap
Year’.” Chicago Tribune, 18 May 2019.

Lieber, Ron. The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest
Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make. Harper, 18 December 2021.

Skiba, Katherine. “Malia Obama’s Gap Year about to End as She Goes to Harvard.”, Chicago Tribune, 15 May 2019.

The Mental Health Impact of a gap year. Yellowbrick. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2022.
“Time out or Burn out for the Next Generation.” The New York Times, The New York
Times, 6 Dec. 2000.

Torpey, Elka. “Gap Year: Planning for Time off: Career Outlook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 Sept. 2009.

West, Charlotte. “Coronavirus Fears May Lead to Big Gap Year for College Students.”
PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 5 May 2020.

Young adult wilderness therapy program. Trails Momentum. (2022, February 22).
Retrieved February 15, 2022.

Written By:

Mikayla Kelley

Grade 10

Benjamin Banneker HS