Looks Like I’m Gonna Need a Gap Year

Kailee Berg

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College is a scary thought to a high schooler. Many high schoolers have felt the pressure of college since the first day they entered as freshman. For myself, it’s a cloud that grows dark and dense as my time in high school comes to an end. Even though this is top-notch teenage melodrama, I actually get hives from dwelling on thoughts of college. I attempt to dodge the constant questions from people asking where I will go to college. Yet, the thought of college permeates my daily thoughts. I simply don’t know what I want to do, and I’m just as dubious about where I should go. That’s (partially) why I’ve been considering a gap year.

My hive-triggering fear of college isn’t the sole catalyst for my decision. I know my college problems are as unavoidable as the dreaded coming-of-age talks. I know I can’t play this game of college dodge ball forever. However, I desire to have an education outside a brick building. I need to be taught by someone living separately from how my neighbors and I do.The lives of the living can’t just be taught in a hardcover textbook. Just as Mark Twain once said, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.”

I have mused over the idea over a gap year before. My friends and I have joked about becoming a nomadic tribe of girls for a year. We “decided” that we would live in a wooden cabin next to an Icelandic hot spring; when it would get too cold, we would escape to the French Riviera to snack on our macaroons and swim in the glassy water. We know this is implausible -just a reverie- but we don’t want to admit it. We want to see this world we call home; we want experiences. Surprisingly, that’s what our colleges want for us, too.

The Huffington Post has recorded that Princeton and Harvard have encouraged applying students to take a gap year before the commencement of another school year. They have recorded that those that took a gap year have higher GPAs, more stamina in their activities, and are less vulnerable to college burnout. As well, the hiatus serves as a good time discover what you want to do for the next 40 years.

Traveling during a gap year can be very influential in a student’s academics. It’s not just a method to polish a resume, but it’s a way to delve into a deeper understanding of certain topics. Many students spend a year in a country to hone their Spanish skills, or visit the famous European monuments to experience the history discussed in their textbooks. You can’t generalize the gap year either. It’s not just traveling; it is also time to volunteer, to take internships, and to work towards paying off future college debt.

Many students are checking their piggy banks and devising up ways to talk about this with their parents. However, parents aren’t as elated about this post high school option. They’ve raised us from cradle to college campus. They worry that if we take one year off, it will whirl into years of idle activity and no progression towards college. Parent’s have a point.

Those considering a gap year should have a fixed plan on how that year will be spent and what they will be doing after their gap year. If you’re planning on taking a gap year, you should still apply to colleges. You have all the resources to construct your future at your high school. Take advantage of them. There are gap year programs such as the American Gap Association and USA Gap Affairs that can help you with your travels. Although Gap year programs are handy, some gap year programs costs almost as a much of what I assume a kidney would go for on the black market. Other programs, such as Habitat for Humanity and World Wide Opportunities, costs little to no money and still provide for a valuable experience. There are also scholarships that could slash the price tag of other gap programs.

I am a junior this year, a very indecisive one when it comes to my future. After my senior year concludes, I can envision myself walking on a college campus with subjects foreign to me. I can also envision myself strolling among people with foreign faces. I hope to make these moments reality sometime in my near future.

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