10 Reasons to Take a Gap Year After High School

September 23, 2015
Year On TeamGap Years

Original post by Jean Fan

Here in the United States, taking a gap year isn’t a very popular idea despite the research that shows that students who take a gap year report higher graduation and job satisfaction rates. Maybe it’s because those numbers are just numbers, and people need more than that to find the courage to take a gap year. That’s why I’ve put together a list of 10 more reasons why you should take a gap year after high school.

  1. Because you want to set yourself apart. By choosing to take a gap year, you are choosing to take a different path than other people. This path will give you an extremely different perspective than your peers. Not only will this make you appear more interesting to others, it will also cause you to actually become more interesting. When you take a different path, you start asking questions like, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”
  2. Because you want to experience life outside of the classroom. Most high school graduates have spent their entire lives in school. This gives you a warped sense of what is out there, what is allowed, and what is possible. Turns out, a lot more is possible when you leave the confines of a classroom. In the real world, you can make your reality whatever you want it to be. (Within physical limits, of course.)
  3. Because you want to work. Doing internships in high school was an intensely rewarding experience for me in high school. I could feel myself being pushed to grow, much faster than I had been in school. Plus, I knew that many college students struggled to find work after graduating because they didn’t have any work experience. So for personal and practical reasons, I wanted to work full-time, at least for a while. A gap year allowed me to do that.
  4. … or travel. But the vast majority of students who take a gap year spend it in places they’ve never been before. And that’s awesome. There are so beautiful places in the world, so many adventures to have and cultures to experience. Many people believe this, and most people don’t travel anyways. But they frequently look back on their lives and regret it.
  5. … or start an independent project. Some high school graduates have always dreamed of starting their own business, or writing a novel, or otherwise building something of their own. Because school can take up a lot of mental space, however, many students never get around to it. A gap year is a great time to completely direct your efforts towards a hard project.
  6. Because you want to love learning again. After years of grinding through school to make the grade, it can be easy to associate learning with pain or boredom or uselessness. Learning definitely doesn’t have to be this way, and a year away from school can help you re-realize this. Learning can be joyful and exciting and hard in a good way -- in a way that’s meaningful. Give yourself a few months to deschool. Get excited about learning again.
  7. Because you want to develop better life habits. When you’re in the school system, it can be easy to develop bad habits. You go to sleep late trying to finish homework, and you have to wake up early the next day for school, only to crash in the afternoon because you’re exhausted. You eat the gross burritos or pizzas they sell at school, and treat yourself to a sugary afternoon snack to keep yourself going. You don’t work out, because who has time to do that in between school and student council? Not only do these bad habits make life miserable, they’ll take a huge toll on your ability to learn and be productive in the future. Spend your gap year prioritizing your body, and the habits you’ll create will help you in ways you might not expect.
  8. Because you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone. A gap year is a great time to test your limits. Talk to strangers. Take dance classes. Spend time in solitude. Make a list of the things that make you uncomfortable, and get comfortable doing them. Many people go to college stuck in their bubble of “things I can do.” They don’t realize that just because something is uncomfortable for them, doesn’t mean that they don’t have the ability to do it.
  9. Because you’re not sure if school is for you. Maybe you don’t know if you want to go to college, but you also don’t know if you’re ready for the real world yet, because you haven’t experienced it. Well, a gap year is your chance! A gap year is a safe way to give yourself evidence that you can succeed without school. And, if things go terribly wrong, you can always go back to school after a year. 
  10. Or because you want to increase your chances of getting into school. Maybe you know already that you want to go back to school. A gap year can be a way of increasing your prospects of getting into your dream school, even if you didn’t get in the first time. Depending on how you spend your year, you can grow into the kind of person that schools really want to have on their campuses. You’ll have more stories to tell and more experiences to write about. As we said earlier, you’ll have set yourself apart.

Interested in taking a gap year? Apply now!

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