Maybe the idea of a gap year is sounding pretty awesome, but you’re wondering if you’re cut out to take one. Who’s the best fit for a gap year?
The short answer is anyone who’s interested. Let’s face it: high school can be exhausting. Between studying for classes, participating in extracurriculars, working part-time jobs, hanging out with friends and trying to figure out what to do with your life, there’s not a lot of down time to take a deep breath.
Students reported that burnout from the constant grind is the number one reason they chose to take a gap year, but it’s definitely not the only one. You might be interested in taking a gap year because you want to learn more about a certain field before picking it as a major. You may want to see the world, or volunteer, or even work to save up money so you don’t have to take out student loans. The reasons for taking a gap year vary widely but know this: they’re totally all valid.
How To Talk To Your Parents About Gap Time
If you think your parents might have a hard time agreeing to a gap year, laying out the reasons why you may want to take one could help your cause. Simply saying, “I want to take a gap year because I don’t want to go to college” is scary for parents. But when you go to them and say something like, “I’ve been thinking about taking a gap year before college. I feel burnt out academically, and I’m not 100% sure what I want to study. I think a year to discover more about myself and what I'm into would be helpful. Plus, I’ve always wanted to work with children and I found a great program in India that would give me the opportunity to do that.”
The point of the example isn’t that you have to know exactly what you want to do on your gap year, but giving hesitant parents an idea of what a year off could look like helps to ease their fears. Remember that coming to them with more information is your superpower.
Who Shouldn't Take A Gap Year
So, is there anyone who shouldn’t take a gap year? For sure. If you are passionate about school and about continuing formal education without interruption, then by all means, you should go straight to college. Keep in mind that you can always choose to do a gap year during your college years, or even after you graduate before you take on your first job.
On the flip side, if you’re really unmotivated in general and not ready to stretch yourself, a gap year probably isn’t a good fit either.
“There are many students who did not do well in high school who do well in gap year, and there are many students who don’t know if they want to go to college who thrive in gap year, but it has to be a choice,” says Jason Sarouhan, Interim’s Vice President. “Gap year is not the easy path. It requires not only a tremendous amount of courage, but it also requires a student who is willing to put themselves through a pretty amazing period of growth.”
He says that students who are not excited about the gap year, who are not invested in the experience, who don’t see the potential for themselves, or who aren’t willing to take the step out of their comfort zone shouldn’t take a gap year.
One last scenario to consider is if you deal with any type of illness or anxiety disorder that may pose a disruption to your experience. If you’re trying to run away from something, know that a gap year won’t allow you to escape yourself and shouldn’t be viewed as a fix to your problems. A gap year also often removes you from your support network, which can be more stressful when you’re struggling. In this scenario, it’s best to check in with a therapist who can advise you on what they think is best.