The majority of students have ever been hesitating about the advantages and risks of taking a gap year before college. Students’ understanding of such a pause in their studies usually differs from its actual specifics; hence, this notion is an important component of teenagers’ lives that requires it to be properly explained. Although a gap year includes several aspects that might be beneficial for the study continuation and is associated with some crucial risks at the same time, the advantages outweigh the challenges.
In simple words, a gap year can be explained as a period of time before college that is free from studies. It generally allows the future student to perform wanted actions such as traveling, relaxing, choosing the correct major, planning the future, or exploring the world. Suriani et al. define this notion as a “break in educational career that is usually taken between leaving school and beginning to study at university” (127). Additionally, it can be defined as a period from 3 to 24 months taken as a break before, during, or after college (Suriani et al., 127). Hence, such a term generally explains the students’ opportunity to achieve personal goals such as traveling or developing soft skills before the start of the compound and long educational process. In addition, this governmentally introduced concept helps young adults enjoy their life and explore the world without being judged by society or parents.
One of the most significant reasons enhancing students to take a gap year is traveling. The vast majority of young adults usually prefer exploring the world before studying; hence they take a gap year to complete their goal of gaining new emotions. Supporting this argument, Luzecka explains that such a concept of gap year traveling is hugely popular among students and is encouraged by the constant development of backpacking hostels, bars, cafes, transport and leisure services (449). Visiting new countries and gaining new experience is a popular activity additionally because of its low expenditure requirements. Gap year traveling does not only include backpacking or marking a world-round trip, but working as well. According to Luzecka, “activities that individuals can engage in on a gap year include travel, volunteering, working abroad, training, or retaking exams” (449). A large number of agencies provide gap year students with a handful of opportunities abroad; therefore, students are always encouraged to apply (Luzecka, 449). Although traveling generally involves some levels of risk concerning natural disasters, crime rates, money shortage, or lack of medical insurance, it is worth trying and gaining new emotions and memories.
However, many students prefer to stay in their home country during the gap year, spend time with their families, and psychologically relax from the education process. For example, Beaver explains that “researchers in recent years have discovered increasing levels of serious mental and emotional problems” among college students due to high educational pressure (110). Hence, a gap year is a perfect opportunity for psychologically tired and devastated students to rest, gain new energy, and take up psychological sessions to increase and stabilize their mental state. Based on his research, Beaver concluded that during the gap year the majority of students managed to increase their self-confidence, grow as a person, and develop the ability to interact with people from different backgrounds (113). Therefore, the gap year is a great opportunity to improve mental health and solve the individual’s existing psychological problems and traverses as well.
Some may assess a gap year as a waste of time when students could pay more attention to their education or work. Additionally, many parents presume that young adults are not experienced or old enough to have mental or psychological problems; hence, this often is not taken as a considerable reason for a gap year. For example, Beaver explains that”parents expect that after high school their child will go directly to college”; hence their decision of a gap year is often met with disdain (113). Therefore, the idea of a gap year can be questioned for several reasons, but especially because of its innovative concept. The 21-st century is more freedom, equality, and happiness oriented; hence, students follow their interests and try to gain as much happiness as possible. This concept cannot be easily understood by adults who were taught based on the opposite principles and ideas. Hence, the idea of a gap year is often criticized by older generations.
Handling emotions is one of the most important aspects of people’s lives that define success in their interpersonal interactions and educational process. Therefore, such a notion as emotional intelligence is often explained to young adults and students as the aim that needs to be achieved. Shadid and Adams define emotional intelligence (EI) as the ability to understand yourself and others, as well as the skill of managing relationships (559). During the taken gap year students generally manage to unconsciously develop their emotional intelligence levels and behavioral patterns regarding diverse populations. Such features are strongly required in the majority of performed jobs; however, one of the most important spheres of their implementation is medicine. Shahid and Adams claim that “50-60% of medical school-minded students are taking at least one gap year” (561). Additionally, the future physician must be able to adequately interact with large numbers of people such as colleagues, patients, and ancillary support staff to increase the provided levels of patient care (Shaid & Adams, 561). Therefore, psychological well-being is one of the integral parts that can and should be improved during the gap year.
In my opinion, the decision to take a gap year is appropriate to heighten knowledge in certain subjects, increase the GPA by retaking some of the exams, traveling, relaxing, improving soft skills, and gaining experience. From my point of view, a gap year is a good idea when the student has a set aim or plan of his activities during this break from studies. Otherwise, it will be just a year-long vacation when the child still fully relies on their parents. Although people who are rather conservative and traditional in their thinking may assume that a gap year is a total waste of time, I think it is a good opportunity to decide where to go. Many school leavers cannot decide what they would like to take as their major; hence, a gap year is another chance for considering and planning the future. Additionally, it is a good chance to relax from the well-known grading system, grade-level expectations, constant learning, psychological pressure, and outside stress factors (Peters et al., 229). I consider a gap year preferable for every student to provide a rational, beneficial, and suspended decision about their future.
Beaver, William. “Would a ‘Gap Year’ Help Reduce Mental Illness Among College Students?” Kappa Delta Pi Record, vol. 57, no. 3, 2021, pp. 110-114. Web.
Luzecka, Paulina. “’Take a Gap Year!’ A Social Practice Perspective on Air Travel and Potential Transitions Towards Sustainable Tourism Mobility.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 24, no. 3, 2016, pp. 446-462. Web.
Peters, Scott et al. “Should Millions of Students Take a Gap Year? Large Numbers of Students Start the School Year Above Grade Level.” Gifted Child Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 3, 2017, pp. 229-238. Web.
Shahid, Ramzan and William Adams. “Emotional Intelligence Level Higher in Residents Who Took a Gap Year Before Medical School.” Advances in Medical Education and Practice, vol. 11, 2020, pp. 559-562. Web.
Suriani, Abdul Hamid, et al. “Students’ Awareness and Intention to Participate in a Gap Year Programme.” Management Research Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, 2018, pp. 126-131. Web.