The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year
By Samia Bhuiyan
High school is often played out to be a time in our lives where we should take ease, relax, and enjoy the time we have left before embracing the hardships of adulthood for the rest of our lives. However, the decisions we make during those pivotal years of our lives have an important effect on us as we embark on our post-secondary journeys. During the first three years of high school, we are told to keep our options open and take our time. Yet the second we start that final year of school, students are often overwhelmed by the options and expectations of different programs and postsecondary options, especially when knowing that there is so little time before they must eventually decide. Around this time is when many consider taking a gap year, whether it be to take a deeper look at other options, do some more self-discovery, take a job, travel, or just take some time to care for one’s mental health.
1. What can a gap year look like?
One of the benefits of a gap year is that it can look like whatever you may like it to be. It can be time to work and save up some money, since post-secondary is expensive, while also understanding the workforce and getting a taste of the real world. It can be to catch up or retake some courses to meet requirements for a certain program. Or simply put, it can be used as time to do more research on programs, and focus on personal and mental health. Often, we do not have enough resources to understand our decisions and the various aspects that encompass life when we are in highschool. For example, one of my classmates from high school had expressed an interest in computer science, as they were interested in creating marketing websites. However, it was not until they were in the program where they realized that business would be a more suitable option for them based on the job they hoped to achieve after post-secondary.
2. What do you wish you would have done differently after graduating high school?
I wish I had taken a gap year instead of jumping right onto something that I should have put more thought into. After graduating from high school, I wanted to move on to post-secondary with my friends and get out as fast as I possibly could. This is why I had accepted an offer to a program that I thought was close to what I wanted right away, without even doing the proper research and making sure that this was the right decision for me. I assumed that it was simply because I had been confused about what I would like to do for so long that it was that same familiar feeling arising. Once I began classes and started talking to some classmates who had much more knowledge about this program, as they had taken extra time after high school to investigate this program and plan out their future, I realized that this was not the path for me. That is when I understood the importance of taking a gap year if you are unsure or have some doubt about your decisions. I realized that instead of paying a hefty sum for classes, I wish I had taken some time to do more research and considered more options and planned a future from there.
3. What have you heard from others who have taken a gap year?
As previously mentioned, I’ve met some people from my old program who have taken a gap year to decide their post-secondary choice and utilized the time to meet the requirements and upgrade any prerequisite courses. I have had many high school peers who have taken a gap year for a variety of different reasons and they have all said that it had only benefited them. One of them had taken the time to focus on their mental health and had started post-secondary on a much more positive note. Some have also mentioned using the time to work and prepare for a certain program they could not have gotten into during their first time.
The truth is teenagers spend a majority of their time trying to figure out what they would like to do for the rest of their lives with very little understanding of the workforce and post-secondary education. The lack of such experience may cloud the judgment for many incoming post-secondary school students, explaining the high number of program transfers and dropouts after the first year. Although the reason for these causes can range from being unprepared to choosing the wrong program, this statistic can easily be avoided by students having more time to make this life-changing decision or to simply prepare themselves for what is to come.
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