A gap year is expensive, but it provides valuable life experience

High school graduates are increasingly choosing to take a gap year before moving on to earn a college degree or to join the workforce. Though many parents may disagree, a gap year can offer a variety of benefits to young adults before they decide to attend college.

However, a gap year is really only a viable life choice if you pursue it for the right reasons. You should not be considering a gap year just because your best friends are going to Thailand and you want to go with them.

Gap year adventures can be expensive, and it is important that you choose a direction that suits you — not just one your friends are interested in.

You should also not take a gap year simply to gain independence from family, school or other responsibilities. This will not be the only time in your life where you can be free from direction. That time will come soon enough — and when it does, it will test what you’re made of, so take my word and treasure the time you have while you can still rely on others for support and guidance.

Despite the heavy financial burden, one of the greatest benefits of a gap year is that it gives you time to find your passion. Supposing you haven’t already decided on your field of interest, a gap year is an excellent opportunity to discover what you want to do with your life, and what kind of degree or job you might strive toward in the future.

Secondly, a gap year is a good opportunity to travel and immerse yourself in a culture different from your own. If you decide you really want to explore South America and hope to take up Spanish along the way, perhaps a gap year in Argentina or Colombia would suit you perfectly.

Finally, taking a break before college can give you important time to shape yourself as a person. Whether through experience in an office setting or in an exotic location, a gap year will expose you to situations and scenarios that will not always be offered in a college setting, giving you invaluable life experience.

Ultimately, a gap year should be solely your decision. With the exception of financial or other practical constraints, it should be up to you as to whether a gap year is a viable option for your future.

Email Ricky Tischner at rstischner@email.wm.edu.


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