Gap year: Is it right for you?

Americorps logo (Twitter/Americorps)

Americorps logo (Twitter/Americorps)

Lucy Singer

You’ve spent 13 years in school and now you’re preparing for at least four more, with only summer break for you to discover who you really are.

In school, we are bombarded with homework, tests, quizzes and projects. Many are forced to carry copious amounts of stress and anxiety over grades and college. This can get in the way of self discovery and improvement. After spending the majority of our lives in school, we are expected to attend college straight away. There is no time to figure out what we want in life and who we want to be.

Many students decide to take a gap year, a year off before college to learn more about themselves and the world. Gap years can include participating in educational, community service or self-discovery programs abroad or in the U.S.

There are many reasons gap years are beneficial, however, there are important factors that might keep a student from taking a year off. Global Citizens Year gives pros of gap years:

  1. Gap years give you opportunities to experience new cultures.
  2. Gap years allow you to develop important life skills you might not learn if you go straight to college.
  3. Gap years allow you to learn about yourself and the world in ways besides sitting in a classroom.

College Raptor provides real issues with taking a gap year.

  1. Taking a gap year puts you a year behind. This means you will graduate college a year late.
  2. You might lose motivation during the year off.
  3. Gap years can be extremely expensive.
Eco-Israel logo (Twitter/Eco Israel)

Many of these obstacles are easily overcome. Because it is easy to lose momentum for education, it is important for you to register for college and defer a year. This will give an incentive to go back to school because you have already committed.

As for the price, there are many gap year programs that are free and enriching. Americorps NCCC is an incredible (and free) community service program. This program gives you the opportunity to travel the U.S. while helping others. Examples of programs include being assigned to California to help with the aftermath of earthquakes, Puerto Rico to hand out food and many other exciting and humbling missions.

There are also inexpensive programs such as Eco-Israel which costs around $6,000. In this program, you will live on an eco-educational farm where you “learn about and experience sustainable living in an intensive hands-on environment” and “receive an internationally recognized permaculture certification.”

Gap years have their benefits and downfalls, but they might just be the life changing experience (and of course a break from classrooms) that you need.