Graduation is the time when young students become liberated from the daily grind and gain freedom to choose whatever they want to do with their lives. Some students decide to go directly to college, while some prefer to go to the workforce. A gap year, or a year off of school between high school and college, is another option for graduated students. In 2009, The Chicago Tribune published an article titled ”Should Teens Take a Gap Year or go Straight to College?” by Cory Marchi claiming that a gap year is used to postpone a student’s future because they want to sightsee.
He thinks that students won’t benefit from a year off of schooling, and doesn’t acknowledge the real world experience that can be gained from working or learning valuable life lessons during that time. A gap year after high school can help students determine what they want to pursue as their major, and what they desire out of their career.
Marchi believes that because tuition is very expensive, increasing an average of eight percent or more annually, students should directly go to college in order to keep tuition costs down. However, if students aren’t sure what direction they want to take in life, they might benefit from year out of school to carefully consider their options. If they proceed with college before they know what they want, they may make a choice of major that they will regret later on, and they will then have to change their major, which could add another year’s tuition, exhausting limited college funds. During a gap year, students can take time to “soul search” and find what they really want out of their life. If the young graduates need another year to determine what career will make them the happiest in years to come, it is worth an eight percent penalty.
During a gap year, students can find employment while determining their major and career. College is very expensive, and some students need an extra year of savings to put toward the cost of their education in order to keep their debt manageable. Although students may lose roughly eight percent in tuition from one year to the next, they would be able to save money to pay for that eight percent and the extra could be applied toward the rest of their tuition. Responsible students wouldn’t use a gap year as “a year of sightseeing,” like Marchi suggests, but instead would use it to help pay for their higher education.
Marchi feels that students may not be motivated enough to continue with college after a gap year, but students who choose to take a gap year have the relaxation of a full year before they have to continue their education in college, and can recharge their batteries after twelve straight years of schooling. Students who are forced to attend college will get less out of their college education than those who work hard during their gap year. If a young adult doesn’t want to put in the effort toward their education, then they won’t be able to reap the rewards. If any student wants to attend college and is willing to put forth the effort, it will not make a difference if they take a gap year or if they don’t.
Marchi also states that “delaying college can also delay the start of a career,” which may be true. However, a single year won’t be a handicap that can’t be overcome after graduation. The average job search lasts for about six months, and can take much longer. If students start their job search right after their graduation from college, they might have to wait until the next year to find a job. If gap year students start their search in the beginning of their senior year, and have a job lined up for after graduation, they could be only months behind the class they graduated high school with.
They would also have a year of real-life experience in the work force to add to their resume that the non-gap year students wouldn’t have. Students can do whatever they want during their year off of school, but many get jobs and learn valuable life lessons that look good on a resume, helping them stand out in the crowd of applicants. A break from the daily grind of school can help students determine what career they want to pursue for four or more years of college. Cory Marchi believes that gap years do nothing for students other than hold them back, but gap years can help students find their ambitions, save money for tuition, and use their college years more effectively.