Gap Years: The Misconceptions and Truths Behind Them

Steven Yon, Journalist

Why is college the preferred post-high school destination rather than taking a gap year? Are gap years wasteful and haunted? Not at all. Taking a gap year or following a different path than getting a college degree is one of many choices available. Gap year options are surrounded by misconceptions, like “It’s a waste of time. Getting your college degree faster will get you a job faster.” Some adults continue to babble about the negatives, but it’s not entirely true and isn’t “bad.”

One common misconception of taking a gap year is that you will be falling behind academically. Taking a year off from learning will hurt you, right? False! A study by Middlebury College and UNC-Chapel Hill “found their gap year students outperformed traditional students academically and graduated sooner as well!”

Another common misconception is “some students believe that all colleges will grant a gap year or think that they’re guaranteed admissions for next year” states Ms. May. Some colleges do allow you to take a gap year without going through the application process again. To add on, taking a gap year won’t damage your application, as “90% of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year” according to the Gap Year Association.

With particular planning and research, you can achieve goals and expand your knowledge by taking a year off. Moreover, gap years aren’t subject to socioeconomic status; anyone who takes one can do whatever they want, whether that may be exploration or self-enrichment.

The various opportunities post high school. (Steven Yon)

“The percentage of high school graduates immediately enrolled in college in 2019 is 66.2 percent” according to Roughly two-fifths of high school graduates took an alternative route or a detour before college.

When asked about a typical gap year for students, Ms. May says “It all varies. In the past, some students completed gap year programs or traveled. For students this year, they’re either working or just taking time off.”

Ipswich High School Senior, Jake Scruton, is one of few students who have selected to take a gap year for next year. When asked his reason for taking one, he explains “I don’t think college is the best next step for me to take. There’s nothing that I am looking to major in, so I’m not going to waste my money on something that is not going to help me.”

Although gap year programs can cost as much as college tuition, there are opportunities available to everyone, like local internships and classes.

The pros and cons of gap years are similar to the common thought of taking huge risks to hopefully yield high rewards.

Referring back to the cost of gap years, yes, it may be expensive, but that cost can yield an experience that may enhance your resume and even yourself. Moreover, taking a gap year is like going on a solo mission, which may seem scary at first. In the end, it can benefit you by learning more about what you didn’t know about yourself.

There’s nothing “bad” about gap years at all, if not actually “great” for students who take advantage of their opportunities. Future generations of students don’t have to be bound to the common path of college. Instead, they should embrace the up-and-coming change with post-high school options.