So many of us are ingrained to follow a very specific trajectory when it comes to education. We’re expected to go straight from high school to college and know exactly what we want to study for the next three or four years of our lives.
Miraculously–sarcasm, everyone–lots of people don’t know what the hell they want to study for the next few years of their lives. I think Daria said it best:
“My goal is not to wake up at 40 with the bitter realization that I’ve wasted my life on a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.” Uh, word, Daria.
Others don’t even feel emotionally prepared to jump right into university after an anxiety filled senior year. And plenty of students know exactly what they want to do in college, but they just want a bit of a break. If any of the aforementioned things apply to you, you might want to consider taking a gap year–in other words, a year off–after leaving high school and before college.
I jumped straight into college after high school, but I know of a few people who took advantage of a gap year before powering through uni. This practice is a lot more common in the UK and Europe than the rest of the world, but its increasing in popularity in places like the US. Many American universities now allow students to defer their acceptance from specifically for gap year purposes. Are you feeling curious? Well, here are seven reasons why you might want to consider taking a gap year.
You'll Have Time To TravelIf you've really wanted to spend some time travelling, what better time than during a gap year. If you don't have the means to support your own expenses, consider applying for student abroad programs that include scholarship opportunities. Source: Before Sunrise/Columbia Pictures
You Can Participate In Volunteer WorkLove kids? Spend some time helping kids with their homework and become a mentor. You could even help with a local political campaign if you're into politics. Or, if you're really interested in hanging out outdoors, you might want to try WWOOFing. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a program which allows anyone to work on an organic farm in one of 99 countries on the planet in exchange for free room and board. Whether you're interested in helping kids or helping the environment, non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers to help them out. Source: Daria/MTV
You'll Have Time To Get A Job That Will Help Pay For SchoolUnless you get a full-ride scholarship or you're lucky enough to live in a country where university is free, the cost of a university education is sky rocketing. Many students take advantage of financial aid and deal with paying off our student debt over time, but it definitely helps to get a head start in paying off those finances. Sometimes you have to forget fun and think about the future for a bit, which is why you might want to consider getting a job that'll help pay for your tuition before you go to uni. Source: So Undercover/Millennium Entertainment
You Can Get Your Mental Health In ShapeHigh school these days is a bubble of stress, especially after junior and senior year. This is especially difficult for students who have trouble coping with anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. Take a year to give your brain a bit of a vacation and figure out the best way to take care of yourself. Also, try using this time to see a therapist who can help you talk about any and all problems you might have. The pressure won't ease up in college, so if you need to sort yourself out before diving head first into it, do what you've got to do. Source: My Mad Fat Diary/E4
You Might Consider Snagging An InternshipYes, there are internship opportunities for those of you who are fresh out of college. It'll be tough to find a paid gig, but if you can find an internship that'll give you head start in a field you might be interested in, why pass up the opportunity? Also, it looks great on a resume. Source: Shutterstock
You'll Be Able To Study Before You STudyAre you a total brain who wants to study independently before dealing with the college grind? Well, you'll definitely have to time to do it during a gap year. Also, you could even consider just taking one class at a local college on something you're really interested in. Source: Moonrise Kingdom/Focus Features
You Can Find YourselfFiguring out what you want to study in college is tough. Figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life when you're a teenager is even tougher. Sometimes you just need some one-on-one time with yourself to figure out your passions or just to take a much deserved break after about 13 years of school. Take a year off, figure yourself out, discover your passions, and then head to uni. Afterall, it's not going anywhere. Source: Shutterstock