When I was growing up, gap years weren’t as popular as they seem to be now. In fact, from the time I took the PSAT in eighth grade up until my senior year of high school, all I ever heard about was how I should go to college.
I was a bright student with a high GPA so it was sort of expected that I would immediately pursue a higher education after graduating. To not do so would be like putting my life on hold and no one ever told us it was okay to take time off to figure things out.
Fortunately, times are changing. Kids are taking gap years between high school and college and are doing so with great purpose. Some of them are even encouraged to take a break for a year.
Research shows that 90 percent of kids who take a year off from school eventually return to school and they are better off for it. Some colleges are even rewarding students who delay their higher education, too.
There can be several reasons why students choose to delay their higher education. Today we’re going to discuss six reasons why gap years may be beneficial to you.
6 Reasons You May Need a Gap Year Before College
You Don’t Know Why You’re Going to College
Do you think you should go to college because your older siblings or parents went to school?
Sometimes we feel obligated to do something out of tradition or expectation. Maybe your parents have encouraged you to pursue a particular path. Or you feel like you won’t amount to anything if you do the opposite of what all of your peers are doing.
When we put unreasonable expectations on ourselves based on someone else’s experiences, we end up traveling a path that’s not well suited for us.
If you’re going to school because everyone else is going or because someone says you should, that’s a lousy reason to go. Think of it this way, going to college is expensive. If you don't have a clear path forward, then you'll end up straddled with excessive debt and no direction, one of the worst case scenarios!
You Barely Made it the Last Semester of High School
If you barely graduated with a C-average, you might be burnt out. Even worse, college may just not be for you.
There’s nothing wrong with considering other avenues. You may be more entrepreneurial and capable of running your own small business. Or you may be artsy and your talents should be challenged in another way besides pursuing a degree.
You’re not Financially Prepared
If your parents haven’t saved for college and you haven’t received scholarships or grants, you can’t afford college on your own power.
If you can’t afford college, you may be tempted to take out different types of student loans which will mean you’ll graduate from college with a hefty bill that has to be paid - even if you are able to get the best student loans.
This is another legitimate reason to delay college so you can spend time coming up with a plan that will make your education less expensive.
You’re Going to College to Party
If you’re only going to school for the parties or to meet a mate, isn’t college is a rather expensive way to do that?
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy my fair share of parties while I was in undergrad because I did. However, you can party anywhere. I’m sure you can find a party or club that’s way cheaper than the $80,000 price tag I graduated with.
If partying is your only motivating reason to go to school, take a year off.
Does mom still do your laundry and everything else for you?
Things get real in college and there is no mommy there to pick up your clothes off the floor. Nor will there be anyone there to tell you it isn’t good to spend all of your money partying.
Being on your own comes with great responsibility and if you’re still acting like a kid, maybe you can stand another year at home.
You Want to Prepare to get Into Better College
Last, if you applied for your top choice and didn’t get in, maybe taking a year off will be all the difference that you need.
During this time off from school you can take a few classes at your local community college. You could do volunteer work to help you stand out amongst other applicants at your chosen school.
Not getting into your college of choice the first go round is not the end of the world. Sometimes a year is all that you need to make a better impression. Bringing this back to student loans, if you can get into a college that offers a higher quality degree, then you have a better chance a positive return on investment in higher education. Getting a low-quality degree could prove worthless, but your student debt doesn't lose its value regardless.
I’m sure I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Feel free to take a year off from college if you think you need to. Everyone else may not see the good that will come from it, but I can assure you that rushing yourself to receive a degree is not always the best decision. Sometimes you just need a break so feel free to use one of these reasons to take one.