What about a gap year?

Here at Ithaca College, we are at the double-digit countdown to graduation which basically means seniors like myself are currently applying for “real-life” jobs while also questioning every choice they’ve made over the past four years.

After a fantastic, eye-opening experience studying abroad in Fall 2014, I’m often left to question whether or not I should have taken a gap year between high school and college so I could have made these revelations a little sooner.

Gap years have recently become all the rage, with data from the American Gap Association suggesting that there has been an intense increase in interest in the past 4 years. So what are they, and are they actually beneficial to one’s future?

History of the Gap Year

A gap year, according to Gap360, originated in post-WWII Britain as a theory gave in to the belief that “giving young people the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures, there would be a greater chance at achieving world peace as new generations gained understanding of each other cultures and ways of life.”

The site also says gap years are reminiscent of “Grand Tours,” or year long trips the young bourgeois used to take before beginning their careers.

The Debate of the Gap Year

Signet Education, a tutoring and academic consultation organization, hosts a pro/con list on their website of whether or not you should go on a gap year.

While many worry that their will lose their motivation to go back to school after a year off of academics and worrying that they won’t have peers their age, the site insists taking a gap year will give a student time to mature and self-reflect.

A contributing writer for Forbes magazine writes also how a student can explain a gap year to their future employers: “Potential employers may view it as a vacation, so put thought into how it’s described in your resume and CV.”

On the other hand, Randye Hoder, writer for TIME, highly advises high school seniors to take a gap year. And Hoder writes that more colleges and universities are supporting the idea of the gap year:

“a handful of colleges—Princeton and the University of North Carolina, among them—offer scholarships and fellowships to incoming freshmen who take a gap year. Harvard has long encouraged the practice. And in February, Tufts University launched its 1+4 bridge program, which, starting in fall 2015, will offer gap-year opportunities for national and international service regardless of a student’s ability to pay.”

So should you take a gap year?

I think it’s all about personal choice in this respect, but being fully aware of all of your options after high school never hurts.


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