Should we all Take a Gap Year?

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As this upcoming spring looms closer, students will graduate from high school all across the country. They will walk across a stage, shake their principal’s hand, grab their diploma, take a picture, and walk off the other side. They are then faced with the reality, in most cases, of another two to eight years in a higher learning institute of some kind. They go straight from thirteen years of schooling to another undetermined amount of schooling. They have no break, no reprieve, and are yet expected to continue at top performance; an expectation that is truly unfair to students across the US. And yet, it’s not like this way in many other parts of the world. Countries like Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand all realize the importance it is for students to take a gap year and explore the world for themselves. It’s a realization that the US should learn to embrace. There are many benefits to taking a gap year but one of the main one is the ability to see new cultures and meet new people that are completely different.

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A survey of 455 gap year students shows that ninety-two percent wanted to gain experiences and personal growth, eighty-five percent wanted to travel, see the world, and other cultures, and eighty-one percent wanted just to break free from a traditional academic track. Out of these student ninety-five percent said they achieved this goal and experience a new and different environment. They were also able to develop relationships with peers, families, children, and friends. They were able to participate in volunteer services, jobs, and other adventures. They all stated that they grew from the experience. They enjoyed the year they had to find hidden passions and learn new languages. Now, most of this can be argued as subjective reasoning of students but there are many colleges that hold objective data. Princeton University is one of them. In 2009, Princeton University launched its Bridge Year Program. It is a “nine-month tuition-free gap year for newly admitted undergraduates. Students have the opportunity to defer enrollment and spend a year abroad, with University support, to engage in service work in a local community while being fully immersed in its language, customs, and culture.” (Princeton University, 2018) The University then goes on to state that students that complete this program come back as mature adults who tend to outperform and challenge non-gap year students. They fall less victim to procrastination and are more level-headed in an environment where complete freedom is a high chased by many freshmen.

Overall, gap year programs result in students that are ready to take on the world they have just come back from seeing. They are ready to change it and yet not all do. Gap years do have their disadvantages but many of them can be overcome with the right mindset and ability to plan. One of the major drawbacks of gap years is the allocated cost it takes to go around the world for a year. Gap years can range in price from 1,000 – 30,000 dollars depending on the destination and duration of the trip. It’s a price many people won’t or can’t deal with and this is where scholarships and programs can help step in. Programs such as seen at Princeton help give an incentive to students to go exploring. As more students go out of the country, the more it will become expected in the general population and help to decrease the cost of the overall experience. Planning is also an issue but the best way to get around that is to simply reach out to one of the many gap year programs around the country and they can help you. They can also just give information that is essential to know what is going on. Yet, the benefits of the gap year program outweigh the disadvantages of them. Meeting new people, learning new languages, and personal growth all lead to a rise of mature adults in society. It leads to a greater unification of cultures around the world and can help fight against prejudice. US colleges need to learn this and realize that there is more benefit with students meeting each other, taking a break, and coming back ready to learn than forcing them through thirteen years of schooling and then into even more. Students believe or not are people and not workhorses. 

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Should We All Take a Gap Year?. (2021, Mar 24). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from

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