The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

Need a break? Explore the benefits of a gap year

     A gap year is a year break from academics after high school to travel, work or focus on hobbies or passions and can help you gain real-world experiences, explore different cultures, learn independence and more about yourself through personal growth. 

     Choosing to take a gap year is one of the most useful ways to learn more about yourself, recharge from academic burnout and gain experiences that you couldn’t get at a college, like traveling, volunteering and exposure to the world. 

     According to the Student Conservation Association, approximately 3 percent of Americans take a gap year after high school, but the experience that people gain from this is invaluable. A 2015 National Alumni survey by the American Gap Association asked students if they found their gap year worthwhile. Of the responses, 98 percent said it helped them develop as a person, 96 percent said it increased their self-confidence, and 93 percent said it increased their communications skills. 

     “After high school I needed a break, and I really wanted to be making my own money,” English teacher Nicole Norona said. “So, for two years between high school and college I worked full-time at a couple of different jobs. It was good because it enabled me to mature in a different way than if I would have gone to college directly after high school. When I went, I was ready to go and I had more of a set purpose.”

     This time off gives people time to learn new skills, meet new people, travel or work and helps you become more mature before entering college. 

     “I’m doing [a gap year] because it will give me time off of college and education, and just the schedule that everyone has in life where you go from school to college to work,” senior Andrea Benzaquen said. “It can take my mind off of things, give me more peace internally and more experiences that will allow me to grow into the person that I want to be.”

     After 12 years of school, going straight to college can cause students to burnout which can lead to poor grades and low mental health; however a gap year can be an effective way to recover from academic burnout. It lets students take time to recharge and focus on something other than the education system, and many of these students end up doing better in school than those who didn’t take a year off. 

     According to Denver Gap Year, studies show that students who took the gap year attain grades 23 percent higher than those who went directly to college, and 60 percent of gap year students take their academics more seriously when returning to the education system compared to those who went straight to college. The intense research on the benefits of a gap year has caused many schools like Harvard, NYU and MIT to encourage their students to take one. 

     “There’s nothing wrong with doing a gap year, I think it’s fantastic if you can add that to your experience in college,” College Advisor Jan Spivak said. “But you need to check with the colleges whether or not they have a policy for that.”

      Thankfully, many colleges allow accepted applicants to defer their admission for a year so they can take a gap year and some colleges even go one step further and offer university-sponsored gap year programs. Florida State University is among many colleges that are pro gap year, some of them even providing additional funding for gap year students in need.

     Taking a gap year after high school can be an incredibly rewarding experience for students. It offers an opportunity to explore new interests, gain valuable life skills and learn more about yourself. By choosing to take time outside the traditional academic path, students can return to their studies feeling recharged and better prepared to excel in their studies. So, whether it’s traveling, volunteering, working or pursuing personal passions, a gap year can be a valuable investment in personal growth and future success.

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