The Gap Year

David J DeBonis, Traveling Journalist

In today’s world, it has become an expectation to attend college immediately after graduating high school. Since I was very young, I was told by my teachers and parents that I had to go to college in order to obtain the job that I wanted. Until this year, it never occurred to me that I might not go to college.

After The Senior Class of 2017 graduates next Thursday, over 90% will be attending a four-year University in the fall. I am a major promoter of Education, and I think it is a vitality in the process of creating a better world. But I have to wonder how many of these kids will drop out; or how many will pursue a career path that they are not passionate about, simply because it is the most ‘lucrative’ option.

College is extremely expensive, and the price is not going down. The way I see it, It is a waste of time and money to attend college if you don’t know what you want to with your life, and if you don’t know if college is what you need to get there. College can be a very helpful tool– but most High School Graduates have not lived outside of their hometown, and they do not have the experiences to make a reasonable decision about where they want their lives to go.

This is why I recommend every Senior to take a gap year between the end of High School and the beginning of ‘The rest of their lives.’ A gap year can be extremely beneficial for a large range of reasons. Primarily, it gives the graduate the opportunity to spend time doing something that they have always wanted to do before they take on extra responsibilities such as school or financial stability. It is also vital that graduates give themselves time between High School and College because they will probably become burnt out very quickly from so many consecutive years of schooling.

Another important aspect of the gap year is the reflection time that the graduate will have when they take a year away from school. In this year, the graduate can look at the world, look at themselves, and draw conclusions about what they want to receive from the world. It is very important that The Graduate can experience more of the world before they make a decision on a college major or career path.

There are many possibilities of activities that The Graduate can do during a gap year. Traveling is the first thing that comes to mind, and It doesn’t have to be as expensive as people make it out to be. Programs such as the Peace Corps and Americorps offer traveling experiences in exchange for volunteer work. There are also language learning and cultural programs that focus on teaching and learning in a new place. But this isn’t the extent of it! There are hundreds of traveling opportunities that the Graduate can take in order to experience the world from another perspective

Other people like to work during their gap year. If this is the path that you take, I would recommend that you find a new job (or a few) that will teach you new and useful skills. If you spent all of High School working at a Carwash, then go find a job as a cook, or look for a Trade Apprenticeship! There are many ways to learn outside the walls of a traditional classroom.

All in all, I highly recommend that every High School Graduate consider a gap year before they jump into another four years of schooling. It is an opportunity that you will only have at this time in your life, and you should not be in a rush to jump into the ‘real world’.