Gap year gives students better grasp of the world

by Whitney Carter

During senior year of high school and throughout your time in college, you are faced with a ton of decisions that will greatly impact your future. Do you apply here or there? Stay at this school or transfer? Do you attend college right away or wait and try something new?

One of my favorite journalists, Nicholas Kristof, writes for the New York Times and recently posted on Facebook and Twitter about the positive outcomes of taking a gap year in between high school and college.
“You can accept and then defer entrance for a year, and then use the time to learn a language or travel or work or volunteer,” Kristof writes on Facebook. “It’s silly to study a language on campus when you can do so abroad.”

Taking a gap year was something I considered and quickly dismissed because of my parents and my own notions that after high school you go to college and after college you get a job. I listened to the fears of missing out on scholarships, not connecting with my peers and possibly becoming complacent and never actually attending college.

I am still certain that I made the right choice by attending college, but I do think the gap year option should have received a little bit more attention and consideration on my part.

A gap year does not only apply to the time between high school and college, a gap year can also be during college.

You can take a year off and travel, volunteer in another country or even work. Kristof recommends a variety of options, but advises choosing an option that is the most opposite to your comfort zone or wherever you live because it should be an experience that is totally new to you.

Apparently, students who take gap years are happier. The American Gap Association reports that “Students who have taken a gap year overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs.”

Also, according to the American Gap association, they are less selfish and have a better sense of who they are as a person as well as what is important to them.

They also say that 90 percent of gap-year students return or attend college within a year, which surprised me.

The college advice site, College Confidential, recommended a gap year that would consist of working for students whose families cannot afford their expected family contribution.

“I spent part of my gap year working on a farm in France, and my sons have taken gap years in China,” Kristoff writes. “It’s much cheaper than a year in college—you may well learn more and you can also work and earn some money and get some job experience.”

Like I said, I don’t regret my choice to attend college after high school. However, a gap year in the future now looks like a more feasible opion.
I found that there are organizations to assist with gap year activities and funding. It’s something that I will keep in mind as I continue at Whitworth.

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