South Lakes Sentinel

Is taking a gap year a good idea?

Photo+by+Sasin+Tipchi%2C+taken+form+pixabay.com
Photo by Sasin Tipchi, taken form pixabay.com

Photo by Sasin Tipchi, taken form pixabay.com

Photo by Sasin Tipchi, taken form pixabay.com

Mercer Thomas, staff writer

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For many students, the next step after high school is college, but some take an extra step. A growing trend in the United States is a gap year, traditionally taken before your first year of college. A gap year gives students a chance to get away from the school environment and pursue something they are interested in – like working a job, participating in an internship, or traveling. This could be traveling, community service projects, art projects, or any thing that could give you some life experience and an idea of what career you might want to pursue later. When most people hear the term, they might think that only upper class families can afford them, but there are affordable ways to plan one and some programs even offer scholarships. As these program grow high schools and colleges need to spread awareness of this option.

Traditionally, if you are planning to take a gap year, you first get accepted to the college. Then you present the college with your plan for your year off. If you can prove to them that it is something worthwhile and they agree, then you commit to going to that college the next year and they hold your spot. While it is better to commit to a college first, you can also take a year on your own and then apply to college (but keep in mind that they will want to know what you did during that time).

Many prestigious colleges even go so far as to encourage gap years. On their website, Harvard writes that it “supports students taking a ‘gap year’ between high school and college. The gap year can be an opportunity to explore other cultures, conduct research, learn about the world of work, or delve into a creative passion.” There are many other amazing schools that support taking a break and even offer programs, like Yale, John Hopkins, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, and more.

There are many different structured program options for gap years, but students can also choose their own. “A gap year is actually a program that you sign up for, you get paid for, you get volunteer hours, or you pay for the program and you get college credit,” explained SLHS Career Center Specialist Jennifer Campbell. She stressed that there were several great resources that interested students should look at. For instance, there will be a gap year fair held at Marshall High School in the first week of February. Campbell also suggested the website gapmatcher.com, which allows students to select their interests and then suggests possible programs that will match their interests.

A major problem facing high school seniors is burnout. Often students feel worn out by after finishing high school and may not be motivated for college. Taking a gap year is a perfect solution to this problem, because it gives you a break from school. It can also give you inspiration and show you how your learning will be applied in the real world. By taking a year off from school, students do run the risk of not feeling motivated to return to school. That is the main reason that schools ask you to get accepted and go there first before taking the year off. If you commit to college and make a one year plan ahead of time, then you will avoid this problem. As seniors apply to college and begin to make plans about their futures, they should consider a gap year.

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About the Writer
Mercer Thomas, Staff Editorial Writer

Mercer is a Freshman at South Lakes High School. She does horseback riding and is on the South Lakes Robotics team. This is her first year being on the newspaper staff. She is so excited about being an Editorial writer for the Sentinel.

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Is taking a gap year a good idea?