With university application windows narrowing, many students are faced with the question of whether or not they’d like to go to school right away, or take a year off to explore their options.
Many people argue that students lose motivation while embarking on a full school year of work, travel, or casual studying, while others say it’s better to give yourself time to find something you’d really like to do before spending tens of thousands of dollars to further one’s education.
“I feel like if I take a year off, I might never want to go back,” says senior student Novalee Dwinnell. “Going [back] to school is always something that I’ve wanted to do, so I don’t want to get off track.”
Timberline student Noah Vaton has a similar belief, agreeing that “gap years can be quite beneficial for some,” even though he wouldn’t consider it to be helpful for him.
That being said, he also points out that this may not be the best option for those who lack motivation, “resulting in one year [off] turning into five.”
Although it may not be clear to students, if they take a gap year they will still have the same odds of getting into a post-secondary program later on as those who apply during their senior year of high school.
“Most kids who take a gap year don’t get hurt by it, and [universities] still treat them like a first-year kid coming out of high school,” Carihi counselor John Bowers says. “The only thing that might be different is if they received scholarships or bursaries…because some do expire.”
On the other hand, often students find themselves more financially stable, refreshed, and grounded after taking a year-long hiatus from the school system.
“I am very lucky to be in a comfortable position, with my parents’ support [in] letting me do small trips and relax,” says Sarah Robinson, Carihi’s 2018 valedictorian. “High school was a very busy and stressful time for me so I look [at] this year off as my break.”
Robinson also adds that she’s seen drastic improvements in her mental wellness, including a decrease in previously-troublesome sleep disorders such as Insomnia and sleep deprivation.
“I realized the toll of the stress I let myself feel in high school, [and] the effect it had on my body. I pushed myself to breaking points, but it has taken my this time off to learn how unhappy and unhealthy it was.”
Of twenty students surveyed, all of them agreed that a student’s decision to take a gap year should not be based off of statistics or other peoples’ experiences, but whether or not they believe they’d benefit from time away from standardized education.
Each student voiced their opinions on how taking a year off could affect their productivity, motivation, financial stability, and mental well-being, but all came to a consensus when asked if they’d recommend gap years to their peers; the results will vary from person to person.
For more information on the pros and cons of gap years, students should contact a career or guidance councillor, as they will be able to help personalize a timeline for each individual.