What if I Took a Gap Year?

Which path will you take?

Which path will you take?

School. Then college. Work an average 9-5 job with a 2 week vacation time every year. Have a family. Retirement. Then die. Why is this the standard for life? 


As a senior in high school who has already gotten into college, still trying to figure out where I want to go and do, I am still trying to keep hope for going to an unconventional school or taking time off to do a gap year with the full intention of returning to school. But, why is taking a gap year considered so unconventional when studies and top tier universities show that taking a gap year after high school actually does more good than harm? 

Let’s be honest here. How many of us have been wanting to travel the world as part of their job, or before they go into the workforce. How many of us have wanted to live the van life and live and travel in the Pacific Northwest? How many of us actually have an idea of what we want to do with our lives, but feel like we have to go to college or our parents tell us we need to get a specific or practical degree in order to live a more practical life? This is a load of crap. I don’t even know how many Tedx Talks and youtube videos that I’ve watched about taking a gap year as well as how to successfully travel with little money. There are so many success stories, so what is holding us back and why?


Many fears that parents seem to have is “what if my child starts to work during the gap year and just gets sucked into the workforce and doesn’t want to return to school?” Chances are they would be earning minimum wage, and who wants to do that? What about students, what are their fears? “I feel like I will be a year behind if I take a year off.” What is a year in the grand scheme of things? If anything, someone who takes a gap year would end up even more prepared for life and the workforce. 


This is oftentimes why colleges and universities grant students money to take a gap year to travel or do whatever it is they want to do before they attend school when they choose to take a deferment. If places like Harvard and Standford, some of the highest-ranked universities in the country encourage students to take a gap year, then why do so little students actually do?


This year with the coronavirus happening and many colleges and universities only offering online classes instead of the normal in-person classes, it almost makes more sense to take a gap year and move to the state where the school is located to gain residency. That way the following year, one can save money by only paying in-state tuition rather than out of state tuition. 


So again, I pose the question of why is taking a gap year still so unconventional if you can save money, gain experience from the real world, have a better chance of finding one’s purpose with what they want to do, and feel better prepared and qualified for employment and life? What will you do?